Monday, November 25, 2013


(A) Princess' birthday celebration was done in three parts --
First, *on* her birthday, she wore a crown all day (she called it her "Princess Crown"). Her friends decorated her locker (inside & out!). I took her to lunch at DQ (yes, I pulled her out of school). We also took her to Mongolian Grill for dinner (but no singing; she HATES that!).
Then, on Saturday, I treated her to a massage (by Hallie, the massage therapist at my salon), and a gel polish pedicure (done by me, of course). She didn't want sushi, as we had planned, so I gave her money to go get a Subway sandwich while I cleaned up my studio. We picked up KC on our way home, KP walked over soon after, and KH got dropped off about an hour later. My friend, Jessica (who runs a small cake-making business), dropped off the Minion-themed cake I asked for; the girls absolutely LOVED it! There were gifts, pizza, and a lot of giggling! All but KH spent the night.
Last, on Friday of the following week (rescheduled from Friday, Nov 8th, due to Princess' migraine), she had dinner with her Mimi at Red Robin, along with a few gifts.

(B) Our water-logged floors have been completely redone; they look beautiful! Charter Construction did a WONDERFUL job; all their subs/guys are super detail-oriented. These were the first contractors who did things like we wanted without us feeling we had to babysit them. While they were here, we also had them install a new house-to-garage door, and fix the front door's install (on our dime, of course). We liked their work so much, we'll also be having them install our new back door soon, too.

(C) Two *WEEKS* after her birthday (I was taking bets... We were all way off.), the Wildebeest dropped gifts off for her at our house.
.1. Why does SHE do this? This is one of many things that piss us all off; HE is perfectly capable of doing this himself. They live 10m or less from us! OR, maybe they can respect Princess's wishes to STAY THE EFF AWAY FROM HER & HER HOUSE (yes, this applies to the Wildebeest, too!), and (if you insist on giving her stuff) do it on time, and send them in the mail?!?!
.2. When she dropped them off, she didn't ring the bell nor knock; just dropped them on the porch & left. To me (& Princess, when we told her), that is sneaky. We can only assume that Wildebeest was trying to catch a glimpse of her coming home from the bus, as she did last year (scared the crap out of her last year, btw; she ran home shaking after Wildebeest honked at her!).
.3. Wildebeest also included a card (sappy - which Princess hates), in which she wrote something about "missing" Princess and "looking forward to the day" she "comes home" to them (HAHAHAHA!! Never going to happen, Wildebeest), and pics of two of the three girls; LL's senior pic (she graduated last June), & little MG's 2nd grade pic. None of the littlest, LG... to be sent "later"; no idea why. However, I *do* know that Princess doesn't want these things. To her, it's a slap in the face. She literally rolled her eyes, tore up the pics, and threw them & the card in the recycling bin!
If you want to look for *good* news out of all of this: the sweater (it was on her wishlist) was only one size too big, and the phone case & lanyard were also on her wishlist (although the case was a crappy, China-made, ill-fitting one). She also got some Minion-themed Duck tape (although cute, she doesn't Duck tape much anymore).

I know I've been saying this stuff for years (did you guys know it's been SIX YEARS since MG & the Wildebeest kidnapped Princess?!?!), but apparently, they have a hard time hearing the words from me. I will tell you one new thing... Princess has said that if her bio ever tried to take me back to court, she'd testify loud & clear how she really feels about them & this whole situation... then, maybe they'll finally get it, and leave her (& me) alone. But, we're not holding our breaths. Four more years, and counting!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stupid Stereotypes...

An email went out to all parents at Princess' school from the principal on Wednesday, October 30th. It read:
"1. Yes, Halloween is here tomorrow, wow! I think I’ve sent this before, but just to remind you, costumes are ok, but school dress code still applies. In addition, please be sure costume themes are school appropriate. In past years we have had some students come as “pimps” or “gangsters” or cross-dressing, specifically male to female. Sometimes students want to be really gory and bloody, and that is also not appropriate. Any sort of weapon is of course unacceptable, although carrying accessories such as a wand, or a hat or something is fine. Students have had advisory lessons covering this information. 2. On the theme of school dress code, I am seeing some young women showing a little more than perhaps parents realize when they leave the house. Tomorrow during advisory I will be having all female students come to the commons so I can share the following information:

a. Shorts need to be at least finger length. Athletic shorts are fine, but they must be appropriate.
b. All undergarments must be covered up. In addition, no spaghetti straps or strapless are allowed. Tank tops must have a noticeable width – two fingers is a good guide.
c. All tops must adequately cover your chest. If you are pulling up your shirt all day, you need to put something on over it.
d. Leggings must have something over them – shorts, skirts, long blouse, dress, etc. After today, they will no longer be allowed worn without something else over them.
e. Headbands are fine – bandanas are not.
f. Midriffs must be covered at all times.

If students are not dressed appropriately, they will be escorted to the office and we will phone a parent to bring other clothing. Thank you in advance for your support

Then, another email Thursday afternoon, Oct 31st. It read:
"Good afternoon,
I want to just clarify what was said at the assembly today as there have already been some questions. This morning I called all the girls into the commons to talk about dress code, as I had emailed you yesterday. There were multiple other female staff members present, but no men. I began by telling the girls we were there to discuss appropriate clothing for school as we were all there to learn, and I did make a comment that at times the way girls dress can distract the boys and keep them from learning. Giggle, giggle, giggle as you can imagine, but it got their attention. I then went into specifics about short shorts, low tops, spaghetti straps etc. The final topic was leggings, which I have to say was not received well. There were multiple questions and we had some students come up to show what was appropriate and inappropriate. Many girls were not happy about this, and apparently there is a group of students planning to wear leggings tomorrow just to see what we will do. Please know that we will call you if your student has only leggings with no other covering over them. To my memory, that was the only comment about boys in the assembly and I did it just to get their attention. There was no specific connection to boys and any particular area of dress. Thank you again for your support. I welcome your questions.

I read these, and thought, "I have to say something..." but first, I wanted to get Princess' take on the whole thing. She said that some of her classmates felt embarrassed, and a LOT of girls were pissed about the leggings & bandana parts. We talked for a little bit about how she felt & her interpretation of what was said. Then, I posted these letters for my "Close Friends" on FB, and asked their opinions. Then, I thought about it all weekend. Yesterday morning, I sent this:
"I have a bit of a problem with the way this way handled... (1) In this day & age, we should be teaching our girls (and I *do* teach mine) to respect their own bodies enough to wear appropriate clothing. It is not, EVER, a girls' responsibility to curtail boys' behaviors &/or thoughts. No matter how you brought it up (even in passing), boys should NOT have been brought up in the clothing discussion. I feel very strongly about this, and every time I see something like it, I feel the need to speak up. Why are we still teaching the girls that they need to watch what they wear/say/act because of boys' reactions?!?! This is 2013, and boys need to be fully responsible for their own actions & thoughts; hopefully being taught such by their families. I hope in the future, you will refrain from perpetuating this stupid stereotype. (2) If you have a rule about certain clothing items, it should apply across the board -- every item, both genders. For instance, it was brought to my attention that, while you said specifically that they couldn't wear bandanas, I know of many girls who wear them as headbands. One friend of my daughter wore one & was told to remove it. Another friend of hers wore one & was not. This happened in the SAME class, with the SAME teacher. It just so happened one headband was black & the other was DUCKS-themed. I can sort of understand ruling out "gang" colors, but, in my opinion, that would be inappropriate, as well, considering the two main colors -- red & blue -- are also {the local high school}'s colors. If you want to ban bandanas, then NO STUDENT, for ANY REASON, should be able to wear them. (3) My daughter also said that some of the girls that were called up as examples were embarrassed; for a 12 or 13yo girl to be made an example of in front of her peers is totally inappropriate. If you want to provide examples, use drawings, or pictures from the internet, or maybe ASK a few students ahead of time if they mind being called out (good or bad).

I also wanted to share some of my mom-friends' (some of whom have children at SM) opinions with you --
A. "What happened to class and to have dignity and respect for ones self and that we don't need to flaunt in order to receive self worth or respect from anyone...?"
B. "Ostracizing them in front of their class mates as examples?!? That is humiliating and singles them out as the "slutty ones." At that age, their self-esteem is so fragile."
C. "That's like telling a girl that she was raped because of her outfit! Not only teach your girls to dress with respect, but teach your boys how to respect girls/women, no matter what they are wearing! This pisses me off!!"
D. "It is maddening how the "boys will be boys" attitude is still perpetuated. Like men are too stupid to be in control of their actions, so women have to constantly consider and modify their own behavior. It's actually very insulting to men."

I want to reiterate that I *do* agree with more modest (to some degree) clothing (cover your butt, crotch, boobs & midriff), but I don't see a problem with leggings worn as pants (as long as you can't see their underwear), bandanas worn as headbands (or "support" bands on their arms), or tank/cami tops worn with a shirt over them (I don't see a problem with exposed shoulders, either, btw).

Thank you for caring enough about our girls to try to curb some of the inappropriate dress, and feel free to contact me any time.

I actually was going to also mention that I disagreed with the "cross-dressing" part, but forgot about it when I went to send the letter. Saying cross-dressing, "specifically male to female", is inappropriate is sexist. It says to me, at least, that a girl wanting to dress as a boy is fine, but a boy wanting to dress as a girl is not acceptable. It's not like the kids are wearing fishnets & rubber bras! Princess said that one of her male friends dressed as a grandma last year, and got in trouble! This year, Princess & her friends dressed as Batman, Robin, & The Joker... and none of them got in trouble! What message is this sending to our kids??!?!

Her response was within the hour:
"Good morning,

Thank you so much for taking the time to email me with your support as well as your concerns. I completely agree that young women should be taught to respect their bodies enough to wear appropriate clothing. The only time I made mention of boys was at the very beginning and it was simply to get their attention. I apologize if this was offensive. As for calling students up for examples, the only students that came up were completely voluntary, I did not call anyone out or force anyone to show what they were wearing. Also, no student was put down or made fun of that volunteered to show an example, either appropriate or inappropriate. I appreciated their willingness to volunteer and felt I was respectful of their feelings.

As for bandanas, they are not allowed to be worn by any student. Many of the girls wear headbands, but bandanas of any color are not allowed. I will talk to my staff to be sure this is clarified for them.

Again, I do appreciate the communication. If you ever want to talk in person, or if your daughter has a concern she would like to share, I am always open.

I feel this was a total blow-off letter; she doesn't really care about my opinion & is going to do things her way, no matter what other parents say. Another school-parent/friend of mine is going to write to her, too, but I really feel Ms S will blow her off, as well. I suppose I can take consolation in two things -- (1) Princess isn't one to break school rules (as much as she will complain & disagree with it), and (2) She's only got seven more months of dealing with these rules before she goes to H.S., where these rules don't exist, anyway.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Update

Cheer/Football -- My meeting with Brian went wonderfully. I really felt he listened to what I had to say. I know he took my suggestions to heart because he & his wife discussed some of them, and he & I talked about five specific suggestions I made. Among the ones he liked & agreed with: (1) A "Team Meeting" early in the season. He also said he was contemplating having one at the end of the season, to get some feedback from parents & cheerleaders/football players as to what's working, what's not, and suggestions from team members & parents for upcoming years. (2) More streamlined uniform fittings, with two lines; one for cheer & one for football... also, maybe a mid-week/evening time frame instead of just a Saturday morning. (3) More & better notification for upcoming events, appts, meetings, & schedule changes. (4) Having a team parent for the cheerleaders (each team) so that the coaches (which are high school girls) can focus on teaching the girls, plus their own schoolwork & cheer practices; leaving each team with an actual adult to go to for any reason (like the football players have). (5) Asking the younger players' parents (like the 3/4's) to be part of the volunteer staff; get them in early means a higher chance of things working more smoothly, as those parents are more likely to be in that position for a few years, then they can train & hand off the position to another young player's parent when their kid ages out of the Youth program. I told Brian that this will better insure continuity in the program. Although I can't fix the program to run better, I feel talking to Brian about my specific concerns (& the fact that I wasn't the only one with them) was the right thing to do. My hope is that if Princess makes the squad, and decides to coach-assist next year (as a Freshman, she can't be an actual coach), the program is run better & is more organized.

Household -- Our flooring is just about done being installed. We had to stop last week so we could have Charter install our new garage-to-house door, reinstall our front door, & fix some water damage there (on our dime, of course; these aren't part of the home owner's claim). The crew will finish installing the floors today, and next week, the trim will be installed & all the "stuff" will be put back where it goes.

Medical -- Ace is *supposed* to return to work full-bore on Thursday. The problem is that he's still in pain, can't easily do stairs, and by the end of a day at home, his leg is uncomfortably swollen. He has a call in to the doc about it, plus wants to do some physical therapy. I started occupational therapy a week and a half ago; I have two 3X-daily therapies to do. These are not easy, and cause me some discomfort, so I will assume it's working. I go back for my second appointment on Thursday.

Work -- I am busy. I checked the numbers yesterday... I'm currently averaging $300/m more (gross) this year than last. My books are 80% - 90% full; I'm working, on average, 35hrs/week. I feel a bit overwhelmed, though, because this increase seemed to come in a jump soon after our accident. So, not only am I working away from home more, but I also took on the majority of the housework & all of Princess' taxi duty. When you're used to a spouse who actually does half of the home/parent responsibilities, then you have to do it all for a while, the stress kind of gets to you. We're at the tail end now, though...

Legal -- (A) Our case is moving along slowly, but surely. Doug estimates I'll have a settlement offer within 6m, and Ace will have one before 1yr. We're hoping sooner rather than later, but the biggest concern is long-term physical & emotional damage. But, everything so far looks good. (B) I have to laugh... I got this email from Wildebeest, signed with S.D.'s name of course, when Princess & I were en route to my sister's wedding last weekend: "D*** - It has been brought to my attention that M******* is traveling out of state. As is required by law you are to supply me with a complete travel itinerary as well as contact information for her while she is traveling. This is just one of many blatant court order violations, continually not allowing me to talk to her, repeatedly failing to inform me of her activities, repeated failures to provide travel info. Please provide me this information immediately or there will be consequences.- M***" My response was simply, "I thought I sent it, but I may be mistaken. I do apologize. She & I are headed to Rapid City & will return Sunday afternoon." Let's address the points, one by one, shall we? First, I simply forgot. It's so few & far between that anything happens that I am required to share with him that occasionally, something gets forgotten. Second, it is not "required by law"; technically, it is "required by court order". Third, as anyone with half a brain could tell you, Princess wants nothing to do with her S.D. That's why 2+ years ago, she told him to (basically) leave her alone. Since then, he hasn't made ONE ATTEMPT to call, see, or contact her (which is actually how she prefers it)... unless you count the two birthdays & two Santamases since, when the Wildebeest dropped off gifts for her (last Santamas, we actually got them at the end of January). Fourth, I inform him of her activities as required by our court order. I can't be held accountable for his inability to look for or find specific information that everyone else with that same info can find. Fifth, there is really no need to provide detailed travel info anymore... but I've never intentionally & maliciously withheld it. Sixth, I'd LOVE to know what these "serious consequences" are... Pretty sure his repeated failures to pay child support & the six attorney fee judgments to me would go over a lot worse than the minor, unintentional, infractions I've done. And, last, after all these years, why does Wildebeest still do S.D.'s correspondence? I don't know about you, but in my relationship, I completely trust my husband to communicate anything he wants to with his ex-wife. It's pathetic, really, that Wildebeest still doesn't trust S.D.

Monday, September 23, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

A couple weeks ago, Princess heard a dripping noise coming from the hall. Seemed our a/c unit was leaking... onto our laminate flooring. Ace called ServPro, who promptly sent a project manager out to take a look & assess the damage. He told us to call our home owner's company and file a claim, then call him back when we had a claim number. We also called Columbia, who we have a service agreement through, to get out here asap & fix the leak. ServPro had their guys back out here within an hour to start pulling up our flooring, and drying out the problem areas. Columbia tried telling us that because the a/c still "technically worked" (you know, as it's pouring water all over our floor), it's not an "emergency" and therefore, they couldn't get someone out here for three more days. I said, "No. You'll be out here tomorrow before noon, or I'm pulling my contract, and filing a lawsuit." At this point, it was over 90` outside, and when we shut off the a/c for 10m, got up to 86` in my house. Ace was, obviously, still stuck in the house; no way was I going to make him suffer for three days. Anyway, I think they knew I was pissed, and serious about my threat; they were out here by 1030a the next morning.

Everything was fixed, and dried out, so the next step was a contractor. My insurance company gave me three companies I could call, but of course, I can call my own guy, if I wanted. Ace did a little research, found some reviews on some different places, and called one from the insurance company's list. He was out here Thursday of last week, took a look around, and told Ace he'd have a bid to us "early next week". Looks like, because of how it was laid (& for batch match), our entire main living areas' sub-floor, flooring, baseboards, & quarter-round will all be replaced, along with some of the trim for a couple of doors. Luckily, the flooring company still makes the same stuff (since we obviously love it), but if they didn't, our policy would cover replacement of ALL our floors (bedrooms, too, because they match).

Last week, Monday (the 16th), Ace had another follow-up. At this appt, he had another set of X-rays and put a little weight on his right foot, just to see how well he's healing. Dr D said everything looks great. He then had him do some up & down, side to side, and bend his toes. He can stretch up & down just fine, his side to side is about 1/2 of what it should be, and he can't fully bend his toes. So, his instructions are as follows -- put 1/3 weight on his foot; gently & still using crutch-assistance (for at least the next 10 days). After those 10 days (which puts us at this Thursday), he's to use one crutch, and try for 2/3 weight. We go back four weeks from today for another check, but if he continues with his progressive (& aggressive) at-home PT, as instructed, he will be released back to work Oct 24th.

Last week, Wednesday (the 18th), we finally met with our attorneys. We definitely have a good case. Since the driver of the other car (a rental, no less) is not an American citizen, we're unsure how (if at all) this will affect our claims, but we're pretty confident that within a year, we'll have a settlement. Ace & I have some "homework" to do over the next couple weeks -- keep a journal of all the ways this accident has affected our lives. They want missed events, day to day changes, etc. We also need to gather our financial info for the last few years (so they can get a good idea of his loss of income), send copies of all the pics we've taken related to the accident, and copies of all medical & motorcycle repair bills. I didn't know not to throw out the ruined gear, but I did get pics before I did so, so those will get sent out, too.

Last thing for now -- my meeting with Brian will happen tonight. I honestly don't think it'll do any good, and things probably won't change, but I have to try...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Youth Football & Cheer (DIS)Organization

One of the most annoying things to me is when other people's disorganization affects my life. I am a very organized person in every aspect of my life. I plan out my calendar months (and sometimes, a year, if necessary) in advance. My work calendar is scheduled three months out. When an organization I am a part of is NOT organized, and it affects my life -- especially my WORK -- I get pissed. I'm warning you now; this is a rant post... and I will be sending a modified version of it to the president of the association:

1. We were given less than two weeks' notice regarding getting our children's sports physicals done... in the middle of July! You do realize it's SUMMER, right? And, people go on vacation? It is my opinion that we should be given at least a month's notice (since most doctors have many children in need of sports physicals, making it difficult to get in, & we can't even try on uniforms if we don't have the sports physical paperwork signed). Or, a notice regarding "scheduling your child's sports physical..." should be included in our registration paperwork, with a reminder in early June.
2. We were given less than two weeks' notice regarding the uniform fitting date... also in the middle of July! Only three hours on a Saturday?!?!? (Side note - the football players got two, 3hr gaps, on Saturdays; one of which was the same Saturday as the cheerleaders.) And, when we got there, they had both football players' families & cheer families in the same line, only to send them to different spots when they got to the front of the line. Here's a couple of ideas: Have TWO lines; one for cheer and one for football. Have TWO available dates. Saturdays are fine, if we have more than 2 weeks' notice... Perhaps add a weekday evening, too, for those parents who work odd hours & times... like ME on SATURDAYS (I had to take the day off)!
3. The "Mandatory Parent Meeting" -- for both cheer & football -- is an hour long discussion about FOOTBALL!! Yet, the cheer parents (or a representative sent in their place) must sit through the whole thing, or our girls can't cheer the first game. This is ridiculous. I have two suggestions for this: (A) Parents come to the school, sign in, take a packet with the Code of Conduct, etc on it, leave, sign it at home, and turn it in to their child's coach at the Jamboree. OR (B) Have the coaches go over the packet with parents at the Jamboree (those who don't show up can have a packet sent home, and can sign prior to the first game). This will give the coaches a chance to meet/see their team's parents, introduce themselves, answer team-specific questions, etc. {Side note - my daughter was part of the local soccer club for 7 years, and this is how her coach handled things... parents loved it! He would send an email, which the Youth coaches have never done, introducing himself & giving us a little info about his experience. He would then request that parents come to one practice 1/2 hour early so he could do this parent meeting.)
4. Team pics were scheduled for the middle of August, originally... on a SATURDAY... the same week that practice started... with no official uniforms. I sent the president an email, which went unanswered for a month. I resent it, with a little more irritation, and received, "It will probably be rescheduled, since we don't have uniforms yet." Um, whose idea was it to schedule it so early in the season? How about from now on, we just assume we'll have uniforms by JAMBOREE, and schedule it for the Monday after that? It can then be rescheduled if needed, but that gives the uniform company a little more time, and parents less stress.
5. "Cheer Clinic" was scheduled for the middle of August, as well... on a Thurs & Fri (after the *first* Mon/Wed practice). They were supposed to get their Practice Uniforms (consisting of a team tee & a pair of black shorts) during clinic. First real game starts today, they've had four weeks of practices, and they STILL DON'T HAVE THESE!! If we don't get them, I feel we should get some sort of refund of our fees, since these were supposed to be included.
6. We were told the last week of August that due to having only three girls in the 7th grade team, the coaches decided to merge 7th & 8th grade squads. We were also told we would have the finalized game schedule (since they couldn't exactly go to BOTH games every Saturday) by that Monday. This didn't happen. THIS screwed up my Saturday work schedule, making me look unprofessional.
7. JAMBOREE was on Sat, Aug 24th. The girls got their uniforms Wed, Aug 21st... However, they were missing pom poms & cheer socks. Two of the girls' shells were missing their letter. Those were fixed in time, but they cheered without poms, and had to provide their own no-show socks (another item that is supposed to be covered by our fees).
8. Last year, hair bows were also part of their uniform (included in our fees). This year, we were told at Jamboree that the new ones were $11. Why the change? Why the last minute additional fees? I think they're awesome, but that is something that should have either been part of our original fees, or parents should have been asked for input (with more warning).
9. September's game schedule was finally emailed to parents Friday 30th, with the promise of October's on Wednesday 4th (as Monday was a holiday - no practice). I proceeded to put it in my calendar, and confirm my tentative Saturday clients. Wednesday, I get the rest of the schedule, and two of the four September games/times were CHANGED AGAIN! I had to reschedule, yet again, two clients. I CANNOT PROPERLY RUN A BUSINESS THIS WAY! The *FINALIZED* schedule should have been set by the end of August... at the LATEST! Additionally, why are we playing games so far away, without a game bus available to us? If the games are not within the immediate area, there should be a bus for the team, and a bus for the girls. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the kids aren't there, or are late, because of this.
10. It is now the date of their first game... They never received practice uniforms or cheer socks, and we're supposed to get poms TODAY. This is horrible planning on SOMEone's part. I know this is a volunteer organization, but we've been part of multiple volunteer-based organizations for the last 10+ years, and not one of them is this poorly run. I sincerely hope the association fixes these problems, because my daughter plans on being a part of it for at least four more years (this is her last year as a Youth, but she hopes to coach as a Freshman next year, and continue coaching every Fall through high school).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Life Update

Yesterday marked six weeks since our motorcycle accident. Since I last blogged about it, Ace had surgery on his ankle. He had interior & exterior stitches, and was wearing a splint. He now has a metal plate & five screws permanently attached to his ankle bone. He was in a lot of pain for about a week. At the two week mark, we went back for his follow up, when they removed the outer stitches, and told him he could now get it wet. He was also put back into the boot, which he will wear at least until his next follow up (mid-September). At that point, we're hoping for a brace, which will mean he can start to put weight on it.

My own healing is going well. I went back for my follow up at the four week mark. At that point, the only pain I was in was my lung & my right arm. Doc said the bruised lung can take up to three months to completely heal. I actually was pain-free there for three days in a row, forgot about it, tried to lift myself off the floor without being careful, and tweaked it again. That made life interesting for another couple days... My arm is another story. All the bruising is gone, but it can take up to a year to know if I'll get feeling back. Doc thinks the twinges & pinching I've been feeling under the skin is a good sign; she thinks that means the nerves are repairing. I guess time will tell, but for now, it feels weird having a numb spot there.

The "bad" news is that Ace won't be accompanying Princess & I to my sister's wedding at the end of October; his release back to work date is the same day we leave. We're also super-bummed that half our summer (the half we had planned on utilizing for camping, motorcycling, minor home fix-its, etc) got taken up, instead, by healing. The "good" news, though, is three-fold: (1) He can remove the boot a few times per day to do his at-home physical therapy, (2) The bike came home all fixed last week, and (3) We're planning on a bigger family road trip/camping next summer.

Tomorrow is the unofficial first day of school for Princess (her official first day is Wednesday, but she has a half-day tomorrow to welcome 7th graders). She's not only "big man on campus" -- being an 8th grader now -- and in a leadership role, but she's also a member of the Varsity Youth Cheer squad. She made honor roll both terms last year, and has plans to do so again this year. She's smart, kind, and beautiful; inside & out... and I am very proud of the young lady she's become.

Work has been busier than normal. I've worked close to 40hrs every week, starting two weeks after the accident. Add to that the fact that I am the only one who can drive -- Princess's activities, camps, visits, trips to the mall, etc... Ace's doctor appointments & some trips to the grocery store... my own work, other trips to the grocery store, other errands, etc. -- and you get some sort of idea of the crazy-busyness around here.

Oh, yeah; forgot to mention -- We've decided to sue the woman responsible for the accident. No idea what will come of it, nor how much, but at the very LEAST, Ace has a valid claim for income loss, and we both have Pain & Suffering. We'd like to have the insurance company reimbursed as well, but nothing is guaranteed.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bumps, Bruises, & Broken Bones...

As most of you know by now, Ace & I were in a motorcycle crash a week ago. For those of you who missed it, this is what happened: We were up on the mountainous roads out in Newberg, Or; having a nice Sunday ride. We both were fully-geared (neither of us ever ride without full gear). We came up around a corner, and there was an oncoming car in our lane. Ace had time to tell me "HOLD ON!" through the com, we headed toward the ditch, and fell off the bike. The bike ended up on its right side, and there was glass on the road (busted light bar). I could hear him asking me "Babe... babe, are you okay? Babe?" but I couldn't answer; I had the wind knocked out of me.

The other car had pulled over, & called their friends who lived nearby to come down (they were visiting from Japan, and on their way -- in a rental -- back to the airport to head home). I was able to sit up at this point, Ace yelled at the driver, she fully admitted to being in our lane, but never gave a reason, and then he realized he couldn't put weight on his right foot. He also threw up (shock, we assume), then took a pic of the bike on its side (posted later) & the car's plate. At this point, another car came upon us, pulled over, and called 911 for us. We took off our jackets, helmets, & gloves... the driver of the second car gave us his lemonade, and four of the six helpers stood over us to protect us from the sun while waiting for emergency services. Two of the guys uprighted Ace's bike to get it off the road, as well.

We were checked over by the EMTs, and since I could walk, we got to ride together down to the hospital. Ace had a moment of fear in the ambulance; he told me that when I didn't answer him right away, he thought I was dead... Anyway, once there, we had separate rooms close together. We both got checked over, we both got Xrays, we both talked to the officer who was on-scene (who told us the driver was not cited), then we were released with prescriptions (which neither of us felt the need to fill). I texted a couple friends to get a little help -- K.S. went over to my house to take care of the dogs while we were still in the ER, and S.M. picked us up & took us home. Ace & I both posted pics to FaceBook & a short version of what happened.

Monday, A.C. volunteered to drive me to Freddy's and push the cart. I also called my parents to let them know what happened & that we were essentially okay. Tuesday, GamerBoy came over to visit, check on us, and make dinner for us. I also rescheduled all my Wednesday clients to Thursday & Friday (grateful for a light week -- I only had five clients this week). Thursday, I went in to the studio; took care of two clients. Friday, Ace had his ortho consult in the morning, then his sister & her husband came up to take him on a few other errands while I took care of three (one of which had to reschedule, so I did two) clients.

I've been posting pics & updates daily on my FB, and sent some to my parents. Interestingly, I've lost three "friends" this week (no clue who; perhaps they were nail cohorts, and decided I was boring? lol)... can't please everyone, I guess. Anyway, some things have occurred to us this week: We are thankful we have full coverage on the motorcycle (in the likely event the other driver's insurance is never held responsible for any of this), we are thankful the gear did its job (thank you to SCORPION MOTORCYCLE HELMETS, TOURMASTER jackets & gloves, and CORTECH motorcycle/riding jeans), we are thankful we have excellent medical coverage, we are thankful we have a savings account large enough to get us through this, we are thankful Ace's job pays short term disability, we are thankful for our "village"... we are thankful for our lives.

We don't have the report from the insurance adjuster yet, so we have no idea if the bike is fixable or totaled (if totaled, we'll part out some of the good stuff that's still intact). Once Ace heals, we will get back on "the horse". Ace will have surgery, probably at the end of this week or early next, and will be off-work for 10-12wks (he gets a metal plate & some screws in his ankle... permanently). I know I say this a lot, but most people don't listen like they should: Motorcycles & motorcyclists are usually NOT the problem. YOU, the driver of a four-tired vehicle, are the problem. YOU need to pay attention, YOU need to follow the rules of the road, YOU need be cautious. Because if YOU are stupid, like the driver of this car was, WE are the ones paying for it... potentially with our lives.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's My Birthday!

Over the years (mostly since I turned 30y), certain people have poked fun at me for how I am about my birthday. But, it goes back to my childhood. Growing up, there were six kids in my house, and we didn't have much money. We literally had government cheese, etc, delivered to our front door every month for a while. Anyway, my parents (dad & smom) did what they could to make each child's birthday special. Half of us were summer babies, so we never even got the cupcakes-at-school thing. We *did* however get a special breakfast (my favorite was pancakes shaped in the letters of my name), celebration w/friends (my favorite was a surprise party for my 13th that my parents & best-friend-at-the-time threw for me), dinner (dad's fried chicken, etc), and cake (chocolate w/lemon filling). Of course, it wasn't WHAT I got for my birthday, it was the FEELINGS I had during that day. I was special and loved. That's hard to do in a family as large as ours... but my parents pulled it off, for each and every one of us on our special day. These days, my birthday is a day to remember the good times of my childhood, and to celebrate my own accomplishments... professionally & personally.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day & Being A Dad

Some of my single-mom friends try to take today as their day, too... but that, I think, is unfair. I'm not one for gender roles, but in some cases (like Father's Day vs Mother's Day), they totally apply. You are a single mom, not a dad. By definition, dads are MEN, and moms are WOMEN. I love you, I respect you... hell, I WAS you for a short time. And, you totally deserve credit, but on the correct gender-specific holiday. Today, moms, is not that day!

My friend, Holly, said it so well -- "Some men make a careless genetic deposit and choose to be nothing more; these are cowards and losers and deserve a pox on their privates. Some men make a genetic deposit and stick around assuming they are fathers because they provide a roof and nothing more; these will come to realize that "Cat's in the Cradle" is a true story. Some men assume being a father entitles them to abuse those in their care; these men deserve a special spot in hell where the things they dished out are dealt back 100 times worse. Then there are real men who are Dads and give their children more than genes or a roof; they give unconditional love, emotional support, guidance, confidence, and so much more, & to these men I say Happy Dad's Day and may your day bring you all the joy and love you deserve as a Dad. xo"

Growing up, I had a father (still do) who was there... every day, every night, every bit of homework, every parent/teacher meeting, every recital, every project, every birthday & other holidays, every tear, every smile, every boyfriend, and so much more. From day one through today, and for the rest of my life, he will be part of me, part of who I am, part of how I parent, part of how I love, and part of how I live.

I thought my first husband was that man, but alas, he was not. He pretended very well for five years... either that, or he drastically changed, and not for the better. Now, *I* have a daughter who has a biological father (a combo of number 2 & number 3 in that list Holly posted, above), and a REAL DAD (the last in that list; she calls him Papa). Her bf gave her some genes, and a realization that just because you share blood doesn't mean you are a dad. REAL DADS are those who care, who love, who take care of, who put their children's needs above their own. So, today, I publicly thank both my own father and my Princess' (& Squeeks' & Gamerboy's) PAPA for being the dads every man should be.


We've actually been done for about a month... unless you count the little touch-up projects left to do (a little paint on one wall, a little grout on the ceiling above the tub, one small piece of quarter round behind the toilet...). For those following along but not on my FB friends list (stalkers! lol), here are some before & after shots:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Money Woes...

Not mine, of course... we've been debt-free (thanks, in huge part, to Ace's parents' generosity when they passed away) for over 5 years. The biggest reason we're still okay is that we haven't changed our spending habits -- with the exception of the money spent to remodel, the money paid out to get debt-free, and the investments we've made. Here's the thing: I watch Suze Orman every Saturday night. Over the years, we've gotten smarter with our money & our financial choices... and it kills me that so many people we know have not.
So, for your consumption, this is a partial list of Suze's general rules:
1. Live below your means, but within your needs. No longer is it okay to "live within your means"... that leaves nothing for your future. Make sure your needs are met, but do so without spending every dime you have. Cut coupons, shop sales & off-season (except for food -- that should be local & in-season whenever possible), make your own mocha/coffee/chai tea, take advantage of online deals and consignment shops, use RedBox or at least go to a matinee (no one NEEDS to see a movie at full-price)!
This also applies to the use of credit. I know many who get into trouble; not due to the use of credit cards, but due to their inability to pay it back in a timely manner. I don't view credit cards as inherently "bad". Without properly using some type of credit in life, you're going to have a very difficult time buying things like a house or a car later in life. Did you know that your household bills are part of your credit history? Did you know that employers can, and do, check your credit rating before they will hire you? I don't teach my daughter that having credit is a bad thing; I teach her to use it properly. If you must borrow, make sure you have money in the bank to pay your bill (preferably in full) when the bill comes (places like Target will give you 5% off your purchases, plus donate 10% of what you spend to your school of choices... then you can go right over to the counter & pay off what you just put onto your card --- everyone, except the bank that runs Target's credit department, wins).
2. You need a minimum of eight months worth of your expenses (although she's been recommending a year's worth lately). This should be a no-brainer; figure out what you spend every month, average it over the course of a year, figure out eight month's (minimum) worth. I know saving money when you're strapped is tough... but I'm sure you can find an extra $10, $20, or even $100 every month to put into a savings account. Shop around, too; credit unions offer higher interest rates than standard banks... and (at least at our CU) once you get to a certain dollar amount (our CU starts at $10,000), you can switch to a "High Yield Savings", which is still instant access, but an even higher interest rate.
3. Invest for your future(s)... Suze's number one thing right now is ROTH IRAs. Currently, you can contribute up to $5500 per person per year ($6500, if you're over 50y) into a Roth, and you can withdraw all of it (up to the amount of your contribution) tax-free; the interest you earned on it can be withdrawn tax-free at the age of 59 1/2y.
4. People First, Then Money, Then Things. A lot of people get confused with this one. This doesn't mean take care of others at the cost of your own security. It means taking care of YOUR *needs*, then the *needs* of your family. Your WANTS do not override your family's NEEDS, but if you don't take care of yourself, you cannot properly take care of others. It means paying your obligations (like child support -- yes, MG, I'm talking to you) before buying fun toys (like the latest iPhone). It does *not* mean you are obligated to pay for your child's college, but it does mean that if you can, you should help.

A few more things:
A recent rule is that if you have an adult child living at home, (s)he NEEDS to have a job and (s)he NEEDS to be financially contributing to the household. I, personally, will waive this *IF* and only *IF* they are a full-time student, and already contributing with a good attitude, good grades, and helping with chores/etc around the house. However, for a lot of people, it's creating more of a financial strain... I also think, while in college, adult children living at home need to put money into a saving's account, because when they do move out, they will have costs associated with this.
She also says BOTH PARTIES (you and your significant other) must work together. In a lot of households, one person is "responsible" for paying all the bills... that's not fair, nor is it right. That has huge potential to cause an overabundance of stress to the one who pays all the bills, and a sense of "not my problem" to the one who doesn't. Money problems, disagreements, etc are the NUMBER ONE reason for divorce. And, even if you don't agree, you HAVE to work together. What kind of marriage do you have if you can't work together with your spouse/significant other, to come up with a way to pay bills that works for ALL of you?
She also says you need a will, a trust, a household budget (she even has a formula for how much each person should be contributing), and more. I highly suggest watching her show (with your spouse/SO), checking out her website, and getting on track with your money NOW! Something that may be helpful to you is this section; she has tools you can use to figure out your expenses, debt elimination, and more.

I know it's overwhelming. I get it. But, the earlier you start getting on track, the less stress your life will have.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm Invisible

For those who are unaware, I had a car accident last Friday. This is not the first time I've been hit in this car. I've also come close to being hit quite a few times, too... From some I've talked to, silver, grey, and black cars seem to be the most "invisible" cars on the road.
Anyway, this time, I was pulling out of the bank's parking lot, there was a truck in front of me, and he decided to back up without looking. It happened so fast, that I didn't even have time to take my car from Drive to Reverse to get out of his way. My front end was dinged, but it was driveable, so after I talked to my insurance company (USAA), I took it to the body shop. Even though it was his fault, USAA handled everything on my end.
When I got to the shop, I sent Ace a text; letting him know I was hit, but I'm okay, and that I was getting a rental car (which I have coverage for; no cost to me) and estimate. I was just going to have them give me an estimate, but decided there's no reason to wait. Since they didn't have a work order, yet, one of the techs gave me a ride to the car rental place. They *did* have a work order for me (I've used them before, and told my claims adjuster to send it there), so after waiting for the two people in front of me to be helped, it took less than 10m to get me going again.
I went back to the shop, and they had my order ready to go. I signed it, and went home. The following morning, I got a call from the guy's insurance adjuster (he's with Farmer's). After interviewing me, he said that they accept full liability (duh), so all of my repairs will be on their dime. I got an email from USAA with all the cost breakdown... for such a small ding, I was surprised it was going to be over $2000 for repairs, but glad none of it was out of my pocket. So, now I wait for the check to show up in my mailbox and the call from the shop that my car is done.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Weekend

Yesterday was the first Mother's Day in a very long time (perhaps ever for me) that I didn't feel I *had* to do anything, nor go anywhere. I had potted flowers sent to both my mother & my smom on Friday (I don't believe in traditional flowers, as they die too fast; waste of money!), worked Saturday (actually, all last week was booked - kaching!) 'til 2p, then Princess & I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening cleaning the house & doing laundry (we like to do this Saturdays, whenever possible, so it doesn't take away from family time on Sundays).

Sunday, I "slept in" until 830a, woke up the Princess (she usually sleeps 'til 10a), and she made my mocha for me. She also made a smaller one for herself, rather than go back to bed. After Ace got up, she made French Toast for brunch, and later, my favorite pot stickers for lunch. I got my nail stuff out because my fingernails were overdue (I always try for every two weeks, but was way too busy this past week, so I was at 19 days yesterday), and Ace asked if there was anything specific I wanted to do; I said, "This." He said, "Okay. What would you like for dinner?" "Um... grilled chicken and roasted red potatoes." He said, "We'll see how the weather does; I don't really want to be grilling in the rain," then let me be.

Later, I heard the ice cream man on the next block over, and said, "Stupid ice cream man... now I want a fudgesicle! OR... one of those cookie sandwiches!", then went back to doing my nails. The whole time I'm sitting at the table, Princess did everything I asked with a smile on her face. I asked for a snack, for more juice, for her to open the window, let the dogs out & back in, flip the one load of laundry I had left from the day before, etc... "Ok, mommy." "Sure, mom." By 2p or so, I was done with my nails, so I decided to watch some HGTV.

About 5p, Ace decided the weather wasn't going to get better, plus realized we didn't have any thawed chicken, so he headed to the store to get a stuffed chicken bacon pizza instead. While he was gone, my sister called; we had a long conversation that took until my pizza was ready. After dinner, Ace showed me what he had planned for dessert: apparently, he had stopped at 7-11 and picked up three of those Nestle chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches! For the record, we don't usually do anything for each other on Mother's/Father's Days; this is not Spouse Appreciation Day (that's what anniversaries are for!).

After dinner, Princess & I watched "America's Funniest Home Videos" and the season finale of "Once Upon A Time", then played cards and a round of Chutes & Ladders before she gave me a foot massage, and went to bed... and I slept very soundly last night.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Screw THAT; We'll Do It Ourselves

So, when we FINALLY heard back from Gwen about Artistic's job bid, we were floored. They wanted almost $1000 just to put in four cabinets (plus trim, shelving, drawers, etc). Um, no. Ace decided we could do it ourselves. We knew it would take a lot longer doing it ourselves, because we're working around our work schedules, our daughter's activities, and Ace's pain levels. BUT, the good news is, the cabinets are all in, level, & plumb.

In the meantime, we've had Customline Shower Doors out here for measure; our glass panel is custom-order so we're still waiting for an install appt (can't make the appt until the panel is done). We also had Precision Countertops out here for template. Our install appt is scheduled for a week from tomorrow.

That only leaves the rest of the trim work, putting in the shelving & drawers, reattaching the doors to the linen cabinets, attaching the sink & faucet, installing the light & mirror above the vanity, and unpacking the boxes of bathroom "stuff" to do. So... HOME STRETCH!!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


These last three weeks have been a whirlwind! We hired Ron Wackerly Construction off of Angie's List. He's exactly the kind of guy we wanted; one guy who does most things himself, but has people for jobs too big for one man. He brought in a guy named Mark to help with the drywall & tile work, then left us to the painting over the weekend. He was going to have his "floor guy" do our floor, but since he was already on a big job (Ron said something about him doing an apartment complex), Ron did it himself after the tiling was done. We're so happy with his work that I gave his business card to two friends of mine who need tile jobs done.
After Ron was done, we called in our plumber. Ruben got all our shower parts in & working, the toilet in & working, and the shut offs in for the sink. He would have installed the sink, too, but we don't even have a countertop yet. Before we can do that, we need the cabinets installed. On that note, we went to Home Depot last week and talked to Gwen (who took over for Julie when she got a new job); we gave her copies of our work order, told her all we needed was cabinet install, and she sent an email to Artistic. We're now waiting for Artistic to get back to her with a day/time they can come. We'd do it ourselves, but it's a bit more complicated since we have drawers instead of shelves, and the linen closet is actually two stacked cabinets...
After cabinets, we can get Precision out here to measure for the countertop, we can get the baseboards in & do some touch up, and the last step is getting the glass people out here to do the frameless shower door. I'll post a "before" & "after" blog when we're completely done, but for those on FB, check out the "Bathroom Remodel" album.

Monday, January 28, 2013


A few weekends ago, T and his family were down for an event. My mother had asked prior to their visit if she could have his girls (ages 2 1/2 and 5) while they were at a hotel for their event. Then, she arranged with Princess and me to take Firefly (the 2 1/2yo) on Saturday so she could take Bug (the 5yo) skiing.

Princess then decided to ask her friend, L, to join her. So, Princess went to L's after school Friday, helped her pack a bag (Princess' was already packed & in my car), and I took them both to the MAX station, where my mother was waiting for them. They went back to mom's, and stayed overnight.

Mom & Bug left kinda early, so while I was working just a few blocks away, Princess & L got Firefly dressed & fed. I picked them up (with a borrowed carseat; thank you, Kim!) when I finished at work. Firefly's first sentence to me? "Hi, Auntie! Are we going to your house?"

In the car, she asked if the carseat used to be her sister's, and I said, "No, honey; I borrowed it from a lady who used to babysit M******* when she was your age." Firefly said, "Oh. That was nice of her. I like your car, Auntie." "Thank you, sweetie." I then asked if they were hungry, seeing as it was about 1230p. Firefly said, "I would like a *hanna burger* please. With cheese." I said, "You want a hamburger with cheese. Ok." Wendy's it was, since we no longer eat BK or McD.

At this point, I realized that we forgot to grab Firefly's bag, and although she uses the potty more often than not, I wanted to make sure we had extra pullups, just in case. We needed a couple other things, anyway, so off to Fred Meyer we went. She asked me to carry her, and as we were crossing the parking lot, she hugs my neck really tight and said, "I love you, Auntie D***." "I love you too, sweetheart!"

As I'm putting Firefly into the cart seat, she said, "Auntie D***, can I go on the horse when we're done shopping?" I said she could, but then we needed to get home. She asked why, and I told her, "Because we'll need to let the doggies out to go potty." She said, "Is Uncle D**** at work?" I said yes, so she said, "Ok. Let's shop!"

We ended up getting Princess a winter jacket for next season on serious discount, plus a few groceries, plus the special pullups Firefly uses. As promised, I let her ride on the horse, but only one time. She got a little pouty, and said she wanted to ride again. I reminded her we had to get home to let the doggies out, and she said, "Ok... thank you."

Back at my house, we spent the afternoon: dancing (as she's running in circles on my rug, she said, "I like your house!" & "I like running!"... she also turned up the volume on my tuner; I had the *Toddler Tunes* channel on), "helping" Princess with her science project, drawing me a picture, "helping" Princess clean her room (she told Princess, "This room is messy; clean it up!" lol), had a snack, and we went to the grade school around the corner to play. It was so cold, though, that we were only there for 20 minutes or so.

On our way back to my house, she told me her ears were cold. She had a knit cap on, so since I was carrying her, I said, "Turn your head" and blew warm air onto her ear. I then told her, "Other side" and blew warm air onto her other ear. She said, "Thank you, Auntie D***, that's much better."

At that point, it was time to go. I had gotten a text from mom that she & Bug were on their way back, so I needed to get Firefly back over there. We loaded everyone up, took L home, and drove back into Portland. Firefly said, "Auntie D***, I had a good time today. Thank you." "You're welcome, honey; I did too!"

Bug was in the bath when we got there, and Firefly decided she wanted one, too. Since Bug was done, she got out, and Firefly got in. We said goodbye to both of them and went out to the living room... Mom had planned to feed us, but although Princess had remembered to turn on the crockpot, she had not checked to make sure it was plugged in... so mom didn't have chili for us for dinner. No problem; she loaded me up with a large container of it (cold), so I took it home to heat up & eat.

We found out later than Firefly was upset at us because "they didn't give me goodbye hugs & kisses!" even though she was in the bathtub when we left. LOL. I love that kid.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bathroom Remodel... revamp

After taking a break from the madness that is the holiday season, we went back to Angie's List, determined to find a contractor with good ratings who had the time & want to take on some of the finish work for our bathroom remodel. We found one; his name is Ron. He does a LOT of small construction jobs, has done many bathrooms (& kitchens, for that matter), and is currently booking "about two weeks out". Perfect.
Last week, Tuesday, we had him at the house to give us a bid. All we really need him for is: finish drywall, tape, mud, & spray texture (we'll paint), frame out for one of the grab bars (we already did it for the other one), lay tile/grout in the pattern Ace & I came up with (which we changed over this past weekend, so it may be a bit more than originally quoted, but that's okay), install both grab bars, and lay the flooring. We'll provide all materials except the drywall tape/mud/texture. He emailed his bid to us yesterday morning, and Ace is supposed to send him our pattern change for an updated bid on that.
We already have a plumber, who will return to finish when we're ready, and we picked out our counter top (from Precision), but that can't be ordered until the vanity is installed. So the only other things we need to do are: contact Home Depot to schedule their kitchen/bath company (the same ones we used for our kitchen remodel) to install the four cabinets, and (the very last thing, when every other part of the bathroom is done, I think) figure out who/how we're doing the frameless glass shower door(s?).
Oh, and actually sign a contract/hire Ron!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Holiday Fun

This was the first year we didn't have scheduled time with Ace's kids, so this was also the first year he didn't take time off during either Thanksgiving or Santamas/New Year weeks (btw -- grammar lesson: it's "NEW YEAR" not "NEW YEARS"; there's only one new year... unless you're talking about your celebration, then you can put that fun apostrophe in there before the "S").

Our holiday season started mid-November. We decided that there was no reason for Ace to take Thanksgiving day off (in fact, with a bonus to his paycheck, there was every reason *for* him to work it), and started planning a Thanksgiving dinner for the Tuesday prior. We made sure his kids could make it (Squeaks had the whole week off school, and GamerBoy had finals through Wednesday), planned & bought the food, and started preparing Sunday. We also decided it was time for a full break from the bathroom remodel.

The kids were great; GB has really grown up in the last year. Dinner discussion revolved mostly around the older two's school plans. GB is almost done with community college & is thinking of attending either Oregon State or PSU next fall. Squeaks is still debating; she had some confusion over what's required for her career choices, but GB is trying to convince her to do CC first.

Friday was my mom's annual "Day After Feast"; started for those who had other family obligations on Thanksgiving, but also includes those who work or are "orphans", and anyone else who wants to come, eat, & visit. There are usually between 10 & 15 people; we all pitch in. This year, I made a large batch of fudge (which my brothers mostly devoured), the green bean casserole, and the mashed potatoes. Squeaks actually made it down, too!

That Saturday, Princess went with T&D, their girls, and Mimi for Santa photos while I worked & then watched the Civil War game. The following week, hair appointments for both Princess & I were scheduled. She decided it was time to go more "natural-ish", and chose a combination of reds (and looks even more like me, now). These two months had quite a few birthday parties & volunteer work, as well!

Mid-December, we all had a baking day (& a half, honestly); Princess & I made peanut butter cookies, fudge, & 6-layer bars (not 7; I don't put walnuts in). Princess & Ace made chocolate crackles, M&M cookies, and applesauce mini muffins (traditionally a cookie recipe, it's cake-like enough that they put the batter into our mini muffin tins; they turned out perfectly!). Princess & I put everything in multiple tins, and Monday night (the 17th), she put on her reindeer ears, and we went delivering! We never warn those who are getting a tin ahead of time; sometimes they're home & surprised, sometimes they're not home & surprised by the tin left on their porch.

The second half of December, my work weeks got super-full... I usually work about 15-20 hours per week, but over the holidays, it's between 30-40. That means even baking days and my & the family's nail redos have to be scheduled (usually on Sundays). I also scheduled shopping, and wrapping, days. Speaking of wrapping, I decided to have a "wrapping party" next year. Quite a few local friends hate wrapping, and I thought if I had a party (with refreshements), they would hate it a little less.

The Thursday prior to Santamas, Princess & I went to my mother's so we could exchange gifts before she went to California to visit my sisters, etc. Mom always makes us all a family calendar, with everyone's birthdays & anniversaries on it; very handy. I actually use the same site to do one for my studio -- using photos of some of my work -- but I only have my immediate family's birthdays, plus Ace's & my anniversary.

In years past, I have bought gifts for a few select friends, donated time/money/stuff to many charities, etc... but this year, I wanted to adopt a family. Since we are not religious, church-going people, I didn't want to do it through a church. Instead, I chose a family I have a personal connection to. I bought some things I knew that the mom would love (including candles, a pedi appt with me, & a color/cut appt with my salon's owner), gave them all treats, and gave gift cards for a few different places. I delivered all of these goodies (along with some things one of my clients, and my BFF too, had donated) the Friday prior to Santamas.

Ace & I had invited the kids, as well as his sister & BIL, to celebrate that Monday evening. Everyone showed up around 4p, which was perfect, as we had planned a 5p-ish dinner, followed by gifts & dessert. I had warned the kids that we weren't giving them nearly as much as we had in previous years because of the family I adopted. Besides, they don't need much these days. One surprise -- GB actually bought gifts for everyone, without any reminders. Pretty nice for a broke college kid! Anyway, we had a nice dinner, and a good visit; everyone left by 830p.

Santamas morning, the mini-fam (Ace, Princess, & me) opened our gifts to/from each other, as well as our stockings. We had a stay-at-home movie-day; watching "A Christmas Story", "ELF", and "Miracle On 34th Street" (the original, of course), interrupted by food & card game breaks. Wednesday, we went to see "The Hobbit". It's been a couple years since Ace & I had been to a movie at the theater together, so it was nice to be able to do that. Princess mostly enjoyed it, but said it was "way too long" - I agree!

Last Saturday night, I delivered Princess to her "adopted other family", and Sunday morning, they left for southern Oregon. She'll return sometime on Thursday. This left Ace & I alone (which we hadn't had over the holidays in 5 years, since her bio doesn't get time with her anymore) for five full days. Of course, two of those, we're both working. Regardless, NYE was a quiet night at home; safely off the streets.

We woke up later than usual (of course, after going to bed after midnight), and have been enjoying a quiet jammie day. I have a small to-do list to take care of around the house, and another for my studio space, but all in all, we are taking it easy the rest of the week. Next week, we get back to work on the bathroom remodel, starting with finishing putting up drywall!