Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.


Boldly remembering

It doesn't seem like it has been two years since Columbia exploded over North Texas about 20 minutes from its return home to Cape Canaveral. But, as we approach the anniversary of the tragedy, efforts are underway for the next launch, perhaps as soon as May.

I'm excited about it. It has been a part of my life and I want to see the exploration continue.
NASA has an extensive website about all the aspects of it.

Goodbye to Delta

This was one of those passing stories that made me pause and think, man that is sad. Until now. I work for DFW Airport now. So, it hits a little closer to home. We're going to essentially have an empty terminal until we can find someone to take it over.

Today is the last day that DFW is a hub for Delta Airlines. Delta is reducing its DFW Airport schedule from 250 daily flights to 66 cities to a measly 21 daily departures going to its three remaining hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City. Wow. That is a giant cut. Some 3,600 people are going to be looking for jobs or relocating because of the change.

The only good thing about this is that my boss and the second in charge are going to be spending the whole day in the Delta terminal to address media stuff. So, I'm left to my own devices. Bwwwhahhhaaahaaa!!!

Not really. I have some work to do. But, I did bring in some of my favorite CDs that Army of Dad doesn't like, so I can listen to them while I work. I already feel more pleasant now that I'm listening to Hall & Oates' Greatest Hits. I also brought Steely Dan, Sting and my Christmas present CD Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party. Yeehaw! That will be fun. I don't want to be too raucous this early in the morning, though.


36 going on 16

One of the few things I thought would be great about growing up would be the departure of zits and break-outs. I thought I might trade getting old for acne.

But, noooooooo.

Not me. Whenever I get really stressed, guess what? My face still breaks out.

Two new zits today.



Very blonde moment

Even though I'm still a brunette with reddish hues in my hair, I still have blonde moments.

Case in point:

I haven't had to dress up for a long time. So, when I dug out all my nice lined-wool pants to pull out for work, I thought I had it made. I put the first pair on and looked a dork wearing flooding britches. I scratched my head and tried to figure out why and just blew it off and figured those pants are short. Then, I put on another identical pair, different color the next day. Same problem.


First thought, could I have grown since I was working at the newspaper five years ago? No, surely not. 37-year-old women do not grow.

Well, taller no.

Sadly, fat-ass wise. Yes, some of us do continue growing. It finally dawned on me that I'm 20 pounds heavier now than I was five years ago. My ass and stomach fill out the top of these pants and caused them to get shorter.


I hate it when I am an airhead.

Who's the pervert?

This story is so funny that Army of Dad and I laughed for a good five or 10 minutes.

Apparently, some dude was jerking off in the privacy of his own home when some family 150 feet away in their own home noticed the dude in his window. The mom in this family was concerned because she noticed the dude spanking his monkey and her kids were in the room with her. But, this is where it gets funny. She wasn't content to close the blinds or usher her two daughters away from the offending view. Nope.

"She alerted her husband, and the couple observed (weenie-whacker) from their darkened bedroom for 10 or 15 minutes -- also using binoculars and a telescope -- before summoning the police."

Sounds like she and her honey waited just long enough for their private porn show to end before they called the cops. Hmm. Makes me wonder if they liked it a little too much. I bet the masturbater decided he'd pick a different place to take care of things next time.

Musical firsts

Flipping stations in the car got me to thinking about music, again.

I remember saving my allowance and purchasing my two first record albums when I was in the fifth grade. I bought the self-titled Boston album and the Muppet Movie soundtrack. Quite the combination, I must say. I think Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album was next followed by numerous K-tel compilations. I loved those things.

Then, a year or two later I got a jambox with a dual cassette player - oooohhh, ahhhhhh - that was before I got the vertical turntable stereo with dual cassette player. Man, I was sooo ultramodern and cool.

My first cassette purchase was Working Class Dog by Rick Springfield. I really liked him, too. I had Rick Springfield posters, teen magazine pull-outs, you name it - everywhere. I saw him in concert three or four times. I lived for Rick Springfield. One of my best guy friends in junior high used to piss me off by calling him Prick Springfield. I chased that boy around at break numerous times for that one.

My first car was a sweet 1972 Monte Carlo with an 8-track player in it. I had some Beatles, Elvis and Paul McCartney 8-tracks. Of course, I wrecked that car after only a week of having a driver's license. It could haul some serious ass.

My first CD wasn't until I was in college. Uzz and I bought a $300 CD player. Nothing to it. Just a single CD player, but we were cutting-edge. Poor college students, but we got it. Our first CD purchase - a greatest hits compilation of The Rolling Stones. Unfortunately, that CD went to Uzz along with numerous other CDs.

Music has always been a big part of my life. I remember many things by what music I was listening to at the time. A friend of mine in high school was involved in a car accident that killed another student I went to school with. My friend, TO, told me that Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins from Top Gun was playing on the radio after the crash. He remembered listening to it while waiting for the firefighters to get him out of the car. That has always stuck with me. I lost my virgininty while the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill cassette was playing. I gave birth to my first born while an Elton John song from The Lion King was playing on the radio. It was Can You Feel the Love Tonight. I can't listen to that song or watch that movie without crying because I remember that baby's birth so vividly.

If I ever hear a particular Van Morrison song, it makes me cry for my failed marriage. We talked about playing that song at the wedding, but opted against it. Ave Maria does the same thing. It is such a beautiful song, but it reminds me of one of my failings, but it also reminds me that God forgives us for our mistakes.

John Denver songs remind me of my mom. She always loved him. Certain Christmas songs bring back very strong memories, too. Some old country songs make me think of my dad. Songs like Okie from Muskogee, Spiders and Snakes and anything Statler Brothers or Oakridge Boys are songs my dad always liked. He was a Marty Robbins fan, too. But, the strongest of those is the music of Herb Albert (or Alpert? not sure) and the Tijuana Brass. I actually bought a cassette of that I found at a thrift store and listened to it several times before giving it to my dad. When I was a little girl, my dad coached my softball team and he would take his old pick up and roll down the windows, open the doors and crank up the Tijuana Brass in his 8-track player while we practiced. Cracks me up. I can hum every tune off that old tape even today - 30 years later!

Godsmack and Nickelback both remind me of Army of Dad. Ironically enough, so does Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw. There is one Tim McGraw song that makes me cry every time I hear it because it has some special thoughts about AoD. And, of course, when I hear Nine Inch Nails' I want to F you like an animal; well it provides me with naughty memories of AoD.

Nelly's song, Hot in Herre, makes me think of being pregnant with Stinkerbelle. Honestly, whenever that song came on the radio, her little fetal-being would dance a jig. She loved it. She also liked a No Doubt song, but I can't remember the name of it. In utero, Hot Rod liked it when I read to Pickle. He especially liked The Cat in the Hat. That always got him going. But, he is a big music fan, too. He likes classical and Tejano music the best. So strange.

We have very ecletic music tastes in our family. I can go from Eminem to Kenny Chesney with no problem. Elvis to Chevelle. If I like it, I like it. Lately, I'm on the oldies kick preferring Rupert Holmes and David Bowie to Three Doors Down and Linkin Park these days. But, I will still flip around on the radio stations and listen to all of it. I love music.


Thinking about Valentine's Day

Was reading news and a few little tidbits caught my eye and caused me to surf.

This stuff is funny. One article speculated that men like to be romanced and my first thought is, Yes, they like to be romanced if it ultimately leads to them getting laid. Who's with me? Am I wrong? I think Army of Dad likes it when I make sweet gestures like candles in the bedroom or a nice card in his car, but I honestly think he likes it better when I either give him a new CD, fishing gear or else I'm dressed all trashy and he knows he is going to get laid.

Then, I laughed even harder when I saw this article. It is designed to help guys listen better. Excuse me while I control my laughter. Guys DO NOT read these articles about being better at anything. Please. Am I wrong on this one either?

Small world

I read this story earlier today about woman who was hit by an alleged drunken driver and killed. Ironically, she turns out to be my boss' neighbor. So sad.

First company meeting

I had my first company meeting this morning with two company execs and five general construction/quality control type guys. Not all of us were familiar with each others, so we went around the table to talk about ourselves and our experience. I was the only public relations type there, so I was the one from the Sesame Street song about one of these things is not like the others.

As we went around the table, one old guy professed how great it is to be single and how he feels sorry for his co-workers who bitch about their wives and if he wants some companionship, he takes $50 and goes to some place. At that point, I put my fingers in my ears and started the "la la la, I can't hear you" chant. This made the uncomfortable men around the table start to laugh because they were all glancing at me and back at him in that "Dude, there's a chick at the table" look. The next old guy reminded me so much of my dad that is shocked me. He was a disabled vet who fought in Korea before he was old enough to vote or buy a beer. I wondered if that is how he wound up missing a few fingers or if that was from building roads and stuff. The next guy was from India and proclaimed that he had been happily married for 26 years. I bet he had an arranged marriage, too, like my other friend who is my age. She loves her husband deeply. Amazes me. But, I digress. The next guy drives 82 miles one way to get to work each day. His wife stays home and homeschools their two daughters, ages 15 and 16. I'm thinking Army of Dad may like that idea when his baby girl reaches the teen years. It may be a great way to keep some of those amorous boys away. :) It was an hour that could have been worse. I had to listen to them talk about proposals to bid for certain projects, etc. But, all in all, not too bad.

Just have the blahs today from the cold rainy weather. Makes me glad I don't like someplace like Seattle where this is common. I'd have that illness that people get depressed from when they don't get enough sunshine. Blech.


My Jake Ryan

A friend passed along this little column about how movies make women nuts (ok, add to our nuttiness) by making us think there are perfect men out there like Jake Ryan from John Hughes' Sixteen Candles.

I actually have this video. And, yes, it is on VHS.

I had my Jake Ryan. He wasn't rich, but he was handsome and popular and was the quarterback of our high school football team. We exchanged notes between classes, he threatened to beat up boys who bothered me and we each had an undying crush on each other. Only ... neither one of us knew about the other's until he was getting ready to graduate from high school. He was a junior when I was a freshman and I thought he was da bomb. Every girl thought he was all that. He was handsome, muscular, a youth leader at the church and athletic. And, the worst part, he was really nice. He had a bitchy cheerleader girlfriend who despised our friendship.

At one vulnerable point right before he was graduating, he admitted to me that he always had a crush on me. I could have died. I had a boyfriend at the time, who I thought I loved, *I think he had the micropenis diagnsosis, in retrospect, but I didn't know that at the time* and I wouldn't ditch him for my hero.

I don't know what might have happened had things been different. This poor guy went on to be a youth minister or something at the church while going through college and he wound up getting ran out of church for boinking the girls in the youth group. Worst part of it was that he was boinking the ugly ones. I never got that.

Last I heard, my version of Jake Ryan was a firefighter somewhere in the Metroplex and he was married with some kids. I ran into him a few years ago at the hair salon and he still gave me a schoolboy smile and flirted. He even looked me up on and we exchanged a few emails talking about our spouses and children. We didn't stay in touch. What was the use?

Still, it is nice to know that Jake Ryan was there. He was sort of real for me.

Women who fake it

No, not THAT.

Women (and some guys) who need to fake their football knowledge can use these tips to survive the Super Bowl.

The story says: As much as we would love to believe that everyone shares our passion and hunger for football knowledge, we realize that some folks simply want enough ammunition to survive the big game without total humiliation. So here are a few tips on how to look the part and talk the talk as you head to your Super Bowl bash.

I don't fake it. I know alot about football, in general, but don't even bother trying to fake others out on understanding screens, fades, when certain calls are made for what, etc. I just enjoy the game.

A summary of the tips:
Dress the part - jeans, sneakers and something footballish like a hat or jersey
Bring snacks - nothing frou frou, though
Learn some football jargon - they suggest butterfingers or choker. AoD uses much more colorful language that questions the players' sexuality or upbringing, usually

I still say the Pats are going to kick some Eagle tailfeathers!

I feel like oatmeal

Or maybe poorly made mashed potatoes or Malt-o-meal for that matter.

Just call me lumpy.

Went to the doctor this morning ... he said the lump had grown from the original mammogram and ultrasound on Aug. 13, but not so much that he felt we needed to remove it just yet since it is benign. However, he suggested we do a repeat mammogram and sonogram in about 12 months. I asked him if we could make it six months since it had grown in just six months and he agreed that would be prudent. He said if it grows again in that time, then we would remove it. I didn't talk to him about the surgical implications. I'm guessing it would be a lumpectomy, but I don't know what that involves regarding reconstructive surgery or how they can do that cosmetically. I just don't know. I'm not anxious to have a lump or to have my breast whittled on. He did say if I started having any symptoms - pain, a visible lump, nipple discharge - to come back immediately. The knot can't be felt externally, just by the way, but I have enormous boobs.


The news could be worse. I expected this to be honest. I have been prone to tumors my entire life. I had cancerous tumors removed from my face in six or seven different operations when I was a child. I had an ovarian cyst removed as a young adult as well as the lesions on my cervix last September, too. So, this is really no big shock. My mother had a radical mastectomy when I was in college for breast cancer and she has had the remaining breast whittled on a few times to where it is about half the size it used to be. So, honestly, I feel strangely torn between being optimistic that this isn't cancer to apprehensive at having surgery on my breasts. AoD and I are both fond of them.

I hate mornings

I'm getting better at getting used to it. But, I really don't like mornings very much.

Can't believe I let someone photograph me before I got going this morning.

I will definitely have to do something about my hair and those blackheads.

I'm taking Stinkerbelle to the Mother's Day Out program today. They're having class pictures and I wanted to make sure she got one. Then, I'm going to do a freelance interview and then on to the surgeon. Yippee.


Not a bad day

I found out that I'm getting my pay bumped an additional $3 per hour today. Not too bad for only three days on the job.

Stinkerbelle is continuing to sit on the potty at both home and daycare and she peed on the potty today for the babysitter. Very nicely done little girl. She loves going to play with the children there. She is happy when I leave her and happy when I pick her up. The teachers there say she's a delight. She really loves playing with kids. The boys are excited because they get to go to UNT after school tomorrow with the extended day program and do science experiments in the Environmental Education, Science and Technology facility there. It is the same place Hot Rod's class went on a field trip a couple of weeks ago. So, they might get to go to the planetarium and dig some bones, etc. Should be a fun diversion.

I found an alternate route to and from work today that shaved about 10 to 15 minutes from my commute, sot that rocked.

I won some tickets to the VIP grand opening of the new Cinemark movie theater here in town. So, Army of Dad and I are going to go catch a flick and the kids get to play at the next door neighbor's house. As a trade-off, I'm taking her youngest to karate Friday night and then letting her stay with me afterwards. I'm getting the better end of this deal, but it all works out in the end. I'm not sure what we'll see. We have a choice of:
Are We There Yet? - no
Elektra - maybe
Fat Albert - yes for me, but most likely a no from AoD
Spanglish - ditto
Lemony Snicket, et al - no
Flight of the Phoenix - no idea what this even is
Ocean's Twelve - I need to see Ocean's Eleven first
Christmas with the Kranks - uh, no
The Spongebob Leatherpants Movie - seen it
The Polar Express - seen it and doubt AoD is aching to see it
Ray - eh, maybe
The Grudge - not just no, hell no
Friday Night Lights - this is AoD's vote
Ladder 49 - looks like a tear jerker, definite no

So, I dunno what we'll see. It will be free, so that alone makese any movie a decent choice. We may just go into different theaters. :)

I am going to see the surgeon in the morning to get the results of my follow-up breast ultrasound. I'm sure the results are fine or he would have wanted me to come in sooner. But, I'm still anxious and don't know what the results will be. I'm guessing he'll pronounce my boob just fine.

Would he be Coach Dogg or Coach Snoop?

This cracked me up. Apparently Snoop Dogg is after Bill Cowher's job or maybe he wants Plaxico's job. Snoop said he thinks with some training, he could make the cut as an NFL wide receiver.

Uh, yeah. And, with some dieting, I could be a size 8. Wait, that COULD ACTUALLY happen. Not likely, no, but it could happen.


Personally ...

From deep within my heart ....


I used to have a little rat terrier and we'd make him say things like "personally" in what we imagined his voice would sound like. I'm guessing that dog hated me for that. Ok, for that and the little Dallas Cowboys outfit complete with a visor or maybe it was the Santa Paws outfit.


My dog also looked like this:

This isn't a picture of my rat terrier, but it is pretty close. I'll have to scan one in my plethora of free time.

Admit it. Christian Slater resembles a rat terrier. But, he's still hot.

New make-up

I have an important meeting with one of the executives in the expansion project at the airport.

Maybe I'll try a new make-up style.

What do you think? Is it too much with my honeycomb metallic see-through dress? Maybe the chain-link fence pants are a little too over the top. Hmm. I'll have to reconsider the thigh-high boots if I don't do the chain-link.

Decisions, decisions.

Afternoon Delight

*Skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight*

Ok, I admit it. I'm a child of the 70s. I LOVE 70s music.

Whenver no one else is in the car with me, I flip the radio over to Jack FM 100.3 and if there isn't a good tune there, I typically go to Sunny 97.1 before I head over to the alternative rock station.

Coming home from a run to Dollar General Sunday and I heard Afternoon Delight and started singing. This song really makes me laugh because I have a vivid memory of a car trip with my parents when I was about 8. This was my favorite song. I thought it was about a hot fudge sundae. Swear to God. I thought an afternoon delight had to be some sort of decadent ice cream dish complete with whipped cream and a cherry. Of course, now that I think about it, the Starland Band may have been incorporating some whipped cream into their scenario. I won't even mention the cherry. *shudders*

Then, I got to hear Boogie Man by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. I'm sure I looked like an idiot driving down the road getting down in the car. It was funny, but I love that stuff. I love Stevie Wonder and the Duke of Earl. I heard that one, too.

Not much else was missing but maybe some good old Elton John like Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man or Benny and the Jets.

Airport safety

I had my first test today. Would the tag in my left breast set off the metal detectors. *whew - wiping my brow* Nope, it didn't go off. Thank God. For those who don't know, when I had my biopsy last summer, the doctor put a little metal tag in the lump, so if another lump developed, it would be apparent through a mammogram which one had been checked already.

It was remotely amusing as I held my breath to walk through the metal detector. Of course it sucked that I had to take off my therapeutic rescue heroes boot. But, no biggie.

I had to watch a very *ahem* informative video on airport safety as part of processing through access control to get clearance to get around the airport. Three very important pieces of information:

1) Don't drive in front of moving airplanes on the runway.

Wow! Do they REALLY have to tell you that? Apparently, they do. When talking to my boss about it, he and the next in command both told me horror stories of following other vehicles across the tarmac only to watch that idiot drive in front of a moving plane.

2) Don't drive behind a jet that is firing up its engine. The jet exhaust thingee (gees, I'm so good with technical terms) will blow you clear off the runway. It was the best part of the video - watching this pick-up get blown over and out into a lake near the runway. I felt a bit like Beavis and Butthead and started to ask them to do it again.

3) Airport DPS officers will even pull over the airport vehicles on the tarmac. Cracked me up to watch some dude on a golf-cart looking thing pulling luggage getting pulled over for speeding or something. They even have speed traps on the runways.

Another good part was that the beginning of the video was made in the 80s, so in addition to all the bad hair and mustaches in it, there was a generic porn soundtrack-like bow chinky bow wow music to it. Not that I'd know what porn music sounds like, but people have told me.

So, now I know how to be safe at the airport. They may even let me drive a 15-passenger van. With people in it and everything. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

No need to stick a fork in me

Just for those of you who aren't familiar with the term:
Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Ok, so I'm not. I appreciate the kind words in regard to my pity party in the wee hours and my initial feeling that I was going to take my ball and go home. I still feel like that overall.

I put my blog up and allow comments because I have always thought educated debate can be fun and useful. Occasionally, I change my mind on something from listening to various points of view. However, I don't recall inviting anyone to judge me about the way I live my life. I simply ask that if you don't like the way I live, please go away and keep your comments to yourself. When I don't like a blog or the opinions expressed there, I simply leave and don't return. Simple enough. I may leave one comment, but I usually don't even go back to follow up on it because I have no interest in returning to that site. Life is too short to be spent in troll wars.

With that said, I don't know what my blogging status will be. I have some fairly amusing things I would like to share, but don't really feel like it right now.

I did want to ask for prayers for Sarah Johnson in Indiana. This is from my sister-in-law:
I just received a phone call from Stacie asking us to all say a special prayer for Sarah. She is in Riley Children's Hospital, in isolation, after receiving her stem cell transplant last Monday. Stacie said Sarah has pneumonia and had trouble breathing today so she is now on oxygen. The chemo preceding the stem cell transplant wiped out Sarah's immune system and she is very susceptible to illness right now. Stacie told me last week they detected a virus in her and tried giving her a man made antibody that caused her to react and have convulsions.

So please remember little 3 yr. old Sarah in your prayers. Stacie's message on the phone was that it had been a hard day for Sarah and an emotional one for Stacie. I will email you with updates when I hear more. Thank you for lifting up this sweet little face.

The first time I blogged about little Sarah was back in August, so she has been fighting this for some time. So, please keep this little girl in your prayers. Also, please keep Jonathan Cooper in your prayers. He is from a neighboring town of mine and went into a diabetic coma around Christmas. He is just a child and they didn't even know he was sick. It is so scary that he went from seemingly healthy to comatose. He seems to be making some progress, though. Also, keep Bane's son in your prayers as he fights a long battle with his multiple medical conditions.

Keep me in your prayers, too, please. I return to the doctor on Thursday to find out the status of the lump in my breast.

Thrown under the bus

I may be done with blogging.

I don't think I can handle it any more. People can criticize my politics and beliefs, but when you attack me for the way I live and raise my children, I'm done.

I have now been thrown under the bus by another blogger for returning to work and putting my children in the care of others. I love how cavalier people are like I just decided this would be a fun diversion and traipsed off to work without a second thought.

I cried most of the way to work this morning. I have cried off and on, privately, for the past month since taking this job was even considered.

Army of Dad works two jobs and 60 hours a week most of the time so I can stay home with my children. I do my best to bring home freelance w0rk so I can stay home with them, but at the end of the day, I am still robbing Peter to pay Paul. So, when this TEMPORARY job came open and allowed me some flexibility in the scheduling and the opportunity to make some money I took it AFTER much consideration and heartbreak.

The thought that someone ANYONE would think that this was something we just decided to do without a second thought makes me sick. I'm sitting here crying after a long day to think that people would say I abandoned my children. I cried driving home from work because I missed my children and wished I was there with them.

I'm heartsick leaving my baby girl in the care of others. But, it isn't worth sitting here wasting my precious sleep time defending myself.

I'm done.


This is sad

For somewhere around 15 years, this woman has been kept alive by a feeding tube. She is brain damaged to the point of essentially living her life in a coma. She is awake, but she is not coherent. She doesn't know what it means to be alive.

Her husband has been trying for a number of years to disconnect her from the feeding tube so she may die. Her parents are fighting it. They are critical of the husband who wants to remarry, according to the news story.

Why wouldn't he want to remarry? She has been in a vegetative state for more than 14 years. I think the guy deserves a life. This is so tragic and I wouldn't want to be in either position. I suppose if it were my daughter, I might want to keep her alive, too. But to what point? She doesn't acknowledge them. She can't be "happy" to live that way, however, I doubt that she can experience any emotion and that is sad. At some point, I would think you have to let it go. It isn't fair to anyone and it is so sad. I hope I never have to know what any of them are going through, but it just seems sad.

I'm going to find a living will form to fill out and put in my fire safe. I don't want to put my family in this position should anything EVER happen to me. Put me and the rest of the family out of our/their misery.

Another one bites the dust

Authorities announced the arrest of an al-Qaida figure allegedly behind most car bombings in Baghdad and linked to the 2003 attack on the U.N. compound.

Yeah, really bad that we're there.

No ties to terrorists at all. Nope, not a one of 'em living in Iraq. Where are the good old days of Saddam just torturing and killing his own people?

So far, so good

Well, it is about halfway through my first day and I'm managing ok. I called Stinkerbelle's daycare to check on her and they said she is a peach. One small setback, though. They don't use sippy cups there and she spilled her little Dixie cup of milk at lunch. Evidently that freaked her out and she wouldn't eat after that. She licked her fruit, the teacher said. That's my girl. Crying over spilled milk. :) The teacher said she only wished all first-day children were that happy. So, I'm glad to hear that she is doing well. I thought she would. Definitely harder on mom than baby.

The boys weren't thrilled with getting to school early, but it wasn't too bad. I was admonished by a monitor for dropping them off in the wrong place, but I wanted to make sure they made it to the cafeteria and didn't have to wait for 20 minutes in the vestibule till school started. I'll have to call the office and work things out there, so they can get in the building before the bell rings.

Back to work. Got my first writing project. Would like to get started on the rest, but I have to wait for some executives to spare some time for me.

Oh, and one more grody thing - the women here evidently don't shave their nether regions because every time I've gone to the ladies room, there are some little Clarence Thomas surprises for me on the toilet seats. I may learn to hold it throughout the day. *shuddering*

The Big Day

Well, today is the big day and of course all three kids are still asleep. The two little ones are usually awake by now, but they got to bed late last night. *sigh* I had to expect this. I may just follow our usual routine, but we'll see how it goes.

Pulling out my dress clothes -which I never wear - the pants that I was going to give away last summer because they were too big are now too tight. I need to drop 20 pounds and my goal is to do that before summer. I go back to the doctor next week to be given the OK to stop wearing my rescue heroes boot and if he'll let me, I'm going to start walking every evening and maybe start some other sort of activity. Maybe I'll drag that stationary bicycle back in or just leave it in the garage and ride it out there after I put the kids in bed. We'll see. All I know is that this is depressing.

Gotta get ready for the day. If I can blog at work, I may do it instead of taking breaks. We go to the rodeo tonight. That should be fun. Just anxious this afternoon about the kids and daycare. I just hate that I won't be here tonight after that, but I know they'll be fine. This will likely be harder on me than them.


My kind of Sunday

Today is really my kind of day.

It is really cold outside - ok, so cold is relative in Texas. It is 29 degrees right now. Army of Dad built me a fire to keep me warm while I work on some freelance stories and watch NFL pre-game coverage. He and Stinkerbelle are sitting in the recliner by the fire reading books. He has some book about an Army Ranger and she is reading Dora's Halloween Adventures. It is a lift-the-flap book and AoD noticed that it has a happy black spider with a red hourglass on its back. Ok, probably not a friendly spider for children to play with. A black widow usually has a mark similar to that on her stomach, but it isn't something that we want to portray to children as something to play with. But, then again, if we go very literal, I wouldn't want my daughter playing with monkeys and iguanas either and Dora plays with both. *shrug* She does a very good impression of Swiper, though. Too cute to see her cross her little arms and go "aw, man!" Sweet to see her sitting with dad and reading her book.

We have tortilla chips and Pace salsa, beer and soda, popcorn, peanuts, sunflower seeds ... we are READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL! I'm sure AoD and Hot Rod would rather the Vikings been in it today.

We may have a guest for dinner tonight. One of my friends, and a former boss, is going to work at LSU and leaves at the end of this week.

Here's AoD and Stinkbelle reading while Hot Rod warms himself by the fire. We put a ban on the Xbox today. So, he is occupying himself with GI Joe guys. I just noticed all the peanut butter on Stinkerbelle's face. She had waffles with PB for a brunch.

Back to work. I love these kinds of days. Would be better if I didn't have stories due, but stories mean money.

Moonbats and wingnuts

Who would have ever thought that these would be words, let alone be such hateful words.

I get really tired of being called a wingnut. I get really tired of people who have a differing viewpoint spewing venom at one another. I don't mind getting into a debate with someone, but make your points without stooping to making comments about my children in order to make your weak-ass point.

Why can't we all just debate without attacking? Am I guilty of it, too? I feel like I've come around a little through the course of my blog. I never understood the impact my words would have on someone's emotional responses to my politics.

I've been attacked for calling myself a conservative. I've been attacked for calling myself a Republican. I've been criticized for my views on the war, my opinion of President Bush and even for wanting to throw a bachelorette party.

I've been using restraint and not throwing out the moonbat term anymore because I have figured out that it actually stings a little when I feel like someone is calling me a wingnut simply because we don't share the same points of view. You can find the war on terror utterly preposterous if you want to.

I'm just tired of all the political BS.

In the infamous words of Rodney King : Why can't we all just get along?

He may have been a druggie, but he was right. Why do we all have to take things so personally? We can agree to disagree and still be friends, but I'm tired of all the ugly exchanges and criticisms. Not sure why, but this has really been bothering me for a few days.


AoM, LabKat sandwich

While looking up my TTLB Ecosystem standings, I saw that LabKat is creeping up dangerously close behind me. I can feel her hot breath on my neck and her telling me, AGAIN, that I have great boobs. Yes, I know this, but you drive a better car than me, so we're even. If you didn't have that car, you, too, could have National Geographic boobies.

But, I digress.

Where I was going with this was that I found two blogs sandwiched in between me and LabKat. While many men (and some women for that matter) would give their right arm to be between us at some point, this tidy little blog gave me great laughs.

Hole Card is a hoot. I especially liked his SpongeBob Leatherpants post. One of my friends suggested I blog about it, but he has a great rant on it.

And, wow, the other person sandwiched between us is another non-liberal blog. Something and half of something is a chick's blog with some good reading to it. She's from Brooklyn and I get the impression that she takes shit from no one. I'm guessing many men would pay big bucks to see LabKat and I sandwiched with this gal. Her pic shows her to be fairly attractive.

Go give them a read. I'm probably going to knock myself down in the TTLB standings, but hey, what can I say?

Lost Soul

This is so sad. I stumbled upon this blog and it just made me so sad. He calls himself Lost Soul and blogs about the decline of his marriage and how he is searching for something that he feels is missing. I feel really badly because I think everyone has been at this point in their relationship at some time.

We all struggle. Often, we are looking for someone else to make us happy and that isn't going to happen. We have to make ourselves happy and then work on the relationships around us, but being honest and communicating is what it takes to make things work. Second guessing a relationship won't get you there, you have to be honest and open yourself up to the risk of heartache, hurting the other person or yourself or maybe, just maybe, discover that the two of you were looking for the same thing, but you didn't even know it.

There are many examples of how miscommunication or lack, thereof, can impact a relationship. Army of Dad and I were on a trip and we had a budget about what we could spend. Well, I suggested one form of entertainment and he suggested an alternative. I can't even remember what the deal was, but I said ok to doing something that I really didn't want to spend the money on, but I thought he did. Well, he thought I wanted to go do it, but I didn't. So, we spent $40 on something both of us had wished we hadn't. Now, we made the best of it and after that initial Homer Simpson "doh!" moment, we laughed about it and vowed to talk to each other more. Neither of us wanted to hurt the other's feelings.

An even bigger and better example comes from my high school sweetheart. His mom and stepdad were house hunting. They bought a house and later discovered - as they were going through their divorce - that neither of them really wanted it. Each of them thought it was what the other wanted and acquiesced regarding buying it because they didn't want to upset the other person. Well, this was just one aspect of their marriage where they didn't communicate their true feelings and it came back to bite them in the butt.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to be honest 100 percent of the time. That is impossible and potentially harmful. That would be like Army of Dad telling me that my gray hairs showing through made me look old. They probably do, but if he said it, it would only hurt my feelings. Now, if I asked him if the gray is showing, he can be honest and say yes. But, don't editorialize there! Same thing about a pair of pants. Do these make my ass look fat? The wrong answer is "Do monkeys eat bananas and fling shit at each other?" Hell yes, my ass looks fat in these pants, but it isn't the pants' fault, is it mine for drinking three Dr Peppers a day and sitting on my keester instead of exercising. But, should he tell me my ass looks fat? No. He can answer more diplomatically with something like "I like the curve or your ass." or something similar. You get the idea.

But, when it comes to really important things about our feelings, it is important to talk to one another. A big issue for me and Army of Dad is that he feels like I don't hear (i.e. listen) to him and follow his wishes and he feels like he has to deal with me making the same mistakes over and over again. I'm working on these things and trying to give him my undivided attention and really hear what he has to say. But, I'm a ditz and an airhead and it takes me a while to get with the program. But, I think he knows I'm trying and that helps. When something is bothering me, I try to pick my spot to talk to him about. When he walks in the door from a hard day's work is not the time to talk to him about our relationship. First, he needs a beer, he needs to unwind with a video game or dinner or a mindless TV show about cooking or the hibernation patterns of bears or something to help him be able to hear me and what I have to say.

Timing. Alot of it is about timing. I highly recommend Dr. John Gray's: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Now, he has a series of these books and they all pretty much say the same things. But, this book really did help me to see why my tactics in dealing with things weren't very successful. Men want to solve problems. Women, however, just want someone to listen to us sometimes without telling us how to fix things. Men don't really want to talk about things and they certainly don't want to guess or try to read our minds. We have to be direct and tell them what we want, but after they have their "cave" time to unwind from the day.

ok, I can tell I need to get to sleep because I'm getting all touchy-feely therapeutic now. But, to return to the original topic, I feel really sad for this Lost Soul struggling to find what is missing in his life. I know I'm lucky to know I'm exactly where I need to be and I'm about to go cuddle up next to him while he sleeps.

Career Day

I went to the boys' school this morning to talk about being a writer. Although it was pretty cute when I asked each boy if he knew what my job was. Both of them had the same answer: being a mom. I guess, to them, that is what I do and I think it is sort of flattering that they don't think I do other things first. So, they're right. My main job is to be a mom. My secondary job is to be a writer.

I took in the "tools" of my craft - a dictionary, notebooks and pens, my cell phone, business cards, a tape recorder and some books on writing like my AP Stylebook, the Elements of Style ... stuff like that. We talked a bit about the importance of deadlines and how turning in your work on time (even in school) prepares them for a lifetime of success. Deadlines are applicable throughout our lives. I talked to them about the importance of grammar and good spelling and then gave them some newsy lingo like bylines, headlines, interviews and stories.

Then, we talked about some of the perks of the job: concert tickets, free passes to cool places like Universal Studios and Disney World as well as the cool behind the scenes type things at a wildlife refuge and Discovery Cove. I showed them pictures of me swimming with a dolphin, pictures of the boys feeding and petting giraffes and reindeer as well as my cool shots of Brad Paisley and Ringo Starr. Of course, these were sort of lost on the kids, but the teachers thought it was cool. :) The children were impressed that I've interviewed sports legends - like Roger Staubach, Bert Blyleven, Byron Nelson and Mario Mendoza (famous for what? Anyone? Anyone. The Mendoza Line). They thought it was cool that I've interviewed astronauts and the past three Texas governors. The little kids didn't get as impressed as the older kids, though, when I told them about interviewing the President and First Lady. Now, of course, both were not in those positions when I talked to them. Laura Bush was the First Lady of Texas when I interviewed her both times. President Bush was a gubernatorial-want-to-be when I hijacked him coming out of the Petroleum Club in Midland. I was immediately smitten with this man. Very cordial and polite, down to earth and accommodating. I got his autograph because he was the owner of the Rangers at the time. He EVEN spelled my name right and most people don't do that. He listened to me and heard what I had to say. I loved it. But, I digress. I also spoke with the children in both classes about how my experiences covering bad things that happened to children shaped who I am and also influenced me to get out of daily reporting. I couldn't cover the murders of children when my own were at home sleeping safe and sound or at daycare or wherever. It just wore me down. I got too involved in these crimes and it was eating me up. So, I cautioned them to follow the rules the grown-ups in their lives put into place for their safety. Make sure your mom or dad or teacher or whoever knows where you are. Don't tell them you'll be somewhere and then go somewhere else. I don't know if they listened or not, but maybe a little of it soaked in. Regardless, they seemed to have a good time and I enjoy talking about it.

Here is me in Hot Rod's class with his teacher.

Here is me in Pickle's class:



This morning on my way home from doing career day talks with the boys' classes, I won two tickets to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo while listening to WBAP.

So, Monday night, RC will be coming to babysit (everyone pray for him) and we'll be going to the rodeo, just me and Army of Dad.

NFL playoffs

I think we're going to see the REAL Superbowl Sunday evening with the Pats play the Steelers. I like the Steelers and Ben R. is a hottie (MEOW). But, I don't think the Steelers can beat Tom and the boys.

I think the Eagles-Michael Vick game earlier in the afternoon will be a good game, but it won't matter. Whoever wins the Pats-Steelers game will win the Superbowl.

Anyone care to place a non-monetary wager?

Remember this?

I woke up in the middle of the night and something made me think of Burger King and then it just popped into my head. The Humpty Dance with the verse about getting busy in a BK restroom. Digital Underground, where are you now? The lyrics, well, they fall short of a true poet, I think. Makes me weep for Top 40 radio and what my children will be listening to when they're out of my earshot. I used to LOVE this song and I look at the words and think that maybe I had a screw or two loose in my noggin back then. Ok, maybe still now, because I still like it, just wouldn't let my kids listen to it.

Favorite line of the song: hey yo fat girl, c'mere--are ya ticklish? Yeah, I called ya fat. Look at me, I'm skinny It never stopped me from gettin' busy I'm a freak I like the girls with the boom I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom I'm crazy.

Do I count as a girl with a boom? Does that mean a big butt? I'm not really on the down low with the latest sayings. I'm about as white bread as a person can get.

Lyrics courtesy of Leo's Lyrics.
From the album "Sex Packets"
Verse One: Humpty Hump (Shock G) All right! Stop whatcha doin' 'cause I'm about to ruin the image and the style that ya used to. I look funny but yo I'm makin' money see so yo world I hope you're ready for me. Now gather round I'm the new fool in town and my sound's laid down by the Underground. I drink up all the Hennessey ya got on ya shelf so just let me introduce myself My name is Humpty, pronounced with a Umpty. Yo ladies, oh how I like to hump thee. And all the rappers in the top ten--please allow me to bump thee. I'm steppin' tall, y'all, and just like Humpty Dumpty you're gonna fall when the stereos pump me. I like to rhyme, I like my beats funky, I'm spunky. I like my oatmeal lumpy. I'm sick wit dis, straight gangsta mack but sometimes I get ridiculous I'll eat up all your crackers and your licorice hey yo fat girl, c'mere--are ya ticklish? Yeah, I called ya fat. Look at me, I'm skinny It never stopped me from gettin' busy I'm a freak I like the girls with the boom I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom I'm crazy. Allow me to amaze thee. They say I'm ugly but it just don't faze me. I'm still gettin' in the girls' pants and I even got my own dance {Chorus:} The Humpty Dance is your chance to do the hump Do the Humpty Hump, come on and do the Humpty Hump Do the Humpty Hump, just watch me do the Humpty Hump Do ya know what I'm doin', doin' the Humpty Hump Do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump

Verse Two: People say "Yo, Humpty, you're really funny lookin'" that's all right 'cause I get things cookin' Ya stare, ya glare, ya constantly try to compare me but ya can't get near me I give 'em more, see, and on the floor, B, all the girls they adore me Oh yes, ladies, I'm really bein' sincere 'cause in a 69 my humpty nose will tickle ya rear. My nose is big, uh-uh I'm not ashamed Big like a pickle, I'm still gettin' paid I get laid by the ladies, ya know I'm in charge, both how I'm livin' and my nose is large I get stoopid, I shoot an arrow like Cupid, I use a word that don't mean nothin', like looptid I sang on Doowhutchalike, and if ya missed it, I'm the one who said just grab 'em in the biscuits Also told ya that I like to bite Well, yeah, I guess it's obvious, I also like to write. All ya had to do was give Humpty a chance and now I'm gonna do my dance. {Chorus} Breakdown: Oh, yeah, that's the break, y'all Let me hear a little bit of that bass groove right here Oh, yeah! Now that I told ya a little bit about myself let me tell ya a little bit about this dance It's real easy to do--check it out

Verse Three: First I limp to the side like my leg was broken Shakin' and twitchin' kinda like I was smokin' Crazy wack funky People say ya look like M.C. Hammer on crack, Humpty That's all right 'cause my body's in motion It's supposed to look like a fit or a convulsion Anyone can play this game This is my dance, y'all, Humpty Hump's my name No two people will do it the same Ya got it down when ya appear to be in pain Humpin', funkin', jumpin', jig around, shakin' ya rump, and when the dude a chump pump points a finger like a stump tell him step off, I'm doin' the Hump. {Chorus} Black people, do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump White people, do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump Puerto Ricans, do the Humpty Hump, just keep on doin' the hump Samoans, do the Humpty Hump, do the Humpty Hump Let's get stoopid! {Chorus} Oh, yeah, come on and break it down Outro: Once again, the Underground is in the house I'd like to send a shout out to the whole world, keep on doin' the Humpty Dance, and to the ladies, peace and humptiness forever {Music and fade}

Ok, Army of Mom readers, do the Humpty Hump. Listen to a sample here.


Harry Potter hater

I'm such a dork. Most of my readers and definitely my friends have figured that out. I love Lord of the Rings, I love Star Trek but I'm equally a Harry Potter dork. As a matter of fact, I'm deeply dug in the Harry Potter thing right now.

I go visit The Leaky Cauldron as well as J.K. Rowling's site a few times a week. Last month The Leaky Cauldron ran a link to a Tribune Review columnist named Jack Markowitz's rant about Harry Potter mania. He essentially said the books sucked and people were just sucked in by all the media hype. Whatever. So, I emailed him a little note. Well, evidently he was overwhelmed by Potter fans of all ages and types. So, he wrote another hateful column about it.

The Leaky Cauldron blogged about it, too and pulled out some snippets:

"More troubling was a declaration by many Totter-heads that they've read all five books -- 2,700 pages in toto -- a half-dozen times each! As if layers and layers of meaning are to be found in them. Plus, subtle clues to the unfolding of the plot. In short, the series is a field of study. (Colleges, it's said, are starting to offer courses!) More than a good read is going on here. It suggests a psychological need, a community of feeling with readers "into it" around the world. A kind of cult, in fact, boosted by the peer pressures of child consumers.

It goes too far. Just too far. Life is hardly long enough to get through all the great literature once, even. To think of so much time, taste and eyesight being spent on anything less than first-class. Something eerie is afoot in the book marts. "

Not to let things go (I know you're all shocked). I emailed this jackass again. Here is my email to him and his response:
Wow. I was really disappointed to see that you did it again with a hate-column regarding Harry Potter books.

I'm just curious exactly what you don't like about the books? I've never seen a precise reason in your columns about why you dislike these stories so much. Is it their commercial success? You just don't like the storyline? What is it?

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, however, I just never saw WHAT it was that burns you up so much about these books. Do you find Tolkien's works to be overhyped, too?

Regards, (my name)

Here is Twit for Brains' response:
A hate column? I don't think anything I've done could be described as a hate column. I think Potter fans confuse a skillful piece of fluff with literature of genuine quality, thanks to media promotion, internet buzz, and mass psychology: a sense that everybody thinks something is great, so it must be. Persons of a different opinion, against the crowd, tend to keep it to themselves. Some fans have written me they've read one or more Potter books 10 times! That goes beyond a recreation. It is a cultish devotion which tells me that minds are being diverted from other, better reading. So it's not the books I don't like so much as this emotional extremism abetted by media and marketing in overdrive. Jack M.

Feel free to send him an email if you'd like:

I just don't get it. I bet he also thought the Smurfs were satanic, too. Maybe he thought the Goosebumps series that got lots of middle school kids to read was bad, too. *shaking my head*

Who would you rather read? This smart intelligent mom?

Or this old fart?

I survived the first day

Well, it was only half of a day, but I survived. I have email, a phone number and Cube No. 177. I cracked a really geeky joke and no one got it.

They number each cubicle and told me I was in cube No. 177. I said, oh boy, I'm just like the Borg! The two people I was talking to just looked at me like "whatever" and kept on talking. I thought it was quite clever myself.

Then, I wanted to hand my cube-mate one of the Bill Engvall signs for the following: I pulled out about a dozen little penguin things from a squishie given to me my LabKat to a penguin coffee cup I got for Christmas from my son. She looks at me and says "Do you like penguins?"

Here's your sign.

I got my first tour of part of the international terminal at the airport. It is going to be frigging huge. I was quite the hit at the construction site. Something about construction workers seeing any sort of female sends them into a glazed over stare. Wow.Look.Woman.Boobs.Must.Stop.Working.Look.

My boss warned me, but I told him I like it. No one else ever looks at me anymore except my 10-year-old who is discovering the joy of boobs and that is just sick. Army of Dad is too distracted lately to pay attention. He's exhausted from working 60+ hours a week and soccer is about to start, so we'll get no time together. Such is the life of young busy suburban parents, I suppose.

Borg. Penguins. Airports. *sigh* A steady paycheck will be so nice.

Inauguration Day

Isn't there a song that sound something like that? Like a U2 song or something? I can't remember.

I got up WAY too early this morning. But, it is good to allow me a bit to get ready for the big day. I go work a half-day today to get things started before I go back in on Monday.

It is also inauguration day and if you want to see the latest Jib Jab on the President's second term, go check it out. I think it must be pretty busy because I'm having a helluva time getting it to load.

Official inaugural stuff can be found at the White House's site.

I now have an arch

This morning while taking a bath, I was comparing the bottoms of my feet to see if my right foot is still swollen compared to the other and I just realized what the doctor did to me - he gave me an arch in my foot!!! For more than 36 years, I've had flat feet. It has hurt to run, it has made me slow and it has made shoes uncomfortable.

But, now I have an arch in my foot! This is the coolest thing in the world. I can't believe I'm saying it, but if things are incredible months from now, I may have the doctor do my other foot. I'm still in shock.


The big day

My first official day on the job starts in the morning. Thing is, I'm looking forward to it. I can't believe it, but I am.

So, wish me luck. I will try to blog briefly in the morning before heading off to the old grind. *snicker* I'll only be there for a half-day tomorrow, so it can't be too bad. I need to get home and work on my stories. The homeland security story is sadly lagging as I can't get ANYONE to really help me. *sigh*

This is the outfit I've selected to wear my first day at work:

*ROFLMAO* Seriously, I don't know what I'm going to wear. I guess I ought to think about that, huh?

Get your furry on

Hat tip to Army of Dad for "turning me on" to this story. *snickering*

We first heard about these things on an episode of CSI. But, this is funny.

Fox News has a story on the 'Furry' Convention in San Jose, Calif.

Here is the AP story:
The city is hosting a convention this weekend of about 1,700 "furries" — people who love animals so much that they take on their identities and sometimes dress up like them.

Part costume party and part role play, Further Confusion, or FurCon, gives grown-ups a place to act out their inter-species fantasies.

The convention includes workshops on such things as puppetry, costume making, writing about mythical creatures and "furry anatomy."

Many of those attending participate in Internet chat rooms for "furries."

"But just because it's weird, it's still perfectly normal to the people involved in it," said raccoon wannabe Lee Strom, 36, of San Leandro, one of the event's founders.

Prancing through the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel as a fox among goats, tigers and other animals, Katie Matthew, 20, said she likes the fun of dressing up and escaping into her made-up animal character, which she calls Shadow and has written about in stories.

"It allows me to be someone I'm not,' she explained. "It allows me to step out of everything."

Wow. There really is a fetish for everything.

More FurCon pics can be found here.

Damn blogger

I had a pretty good blog going this morning before I had to get out the door to take care of things and it just crashed and killed all that I had written. *insert loud groan and cursing here*

So, I can't even remember what I had written, but I had to go to Fort Worth today for a pre-placement drug screening at a clinic there. I honestly thought I would be in and out. I figured 'how hard is it to pee in a cup?' Good thing I had my mom meet up with us because I was there about 45 minutes before I got my turn to do it. Uzz very kindly gave me some Pancho's gift certificates, so we were able to go eat for free, too. All in all, not a bad morning.

I got good news yesterday that I'll be eligible for dental insurance in about 60 days after I start my new job. Both boys are past due for their cleanings. Both need a few things done, too. I had them scheduled for late February, but I'll reschedule for the end of March to use the insurance. Woo hoo. Army of Dad and I haven't seen a dentist in three years because we didn't have insurance. So, we'll be going back in, too. That is awesome. I'm spoiled to seeing a dentist twice a year for cleanings.

More good news on the daycare front. One of Pickle's teachers told me that the school district runs an after-school program, so the boys can just stay on campus instead of having to ride a bus across town to the daycare. And the bonus, it is HALF the cost of the daycare. So, it is like getting a big raise. I'm going Thursday afternoon to sign them up for that. I'm really excited about that. Plus, I like the idea of them staying at school. They should be able to get their work done and then play in the gym. Pickle likes shooting baskets, so that should be good for him.

And, even more good news, some of the sources for my story have FINALLY started calling me back. My new boss wants me to have the DFW Airport part of the story wrapped up since I'll actually be working for them next week. So, hopefully I'll get that done in the next couple of days. I have the Dallas PIO working for me on their end. I need to get someone from Fort Worth to help me out and I'll be on my way to getting this story done. Still getting my tax stuff organized. I'll have to wait for daycare receipts and 1099s from my writing gigs as well as Army of Dad's W2.

Army of Dad is having a rough day at work, so hopefully I can help him relax some tonight and he can feel better. I hate it when I'm having a good day and he is having a bad one.


Shrek marathon

Since we've been hanging around the house today, we've been having a backwards Shrek marathon. We started off with Shrek 3D and then Shrek 2 and now we're on the first Shrek DVD. I'm going to miss making my business calls with Shrek and Donkey in the background.

I've been getting a little bit of work done. My sources aren't calling back as quickly as I'd like them to, but I'm getting the calls made. Got my 2004 taxes started. Of course, I don't have my W2 for AoD and I don't have the 1099 thingees I get for doing freelance either. So, I'm getting started on doing all those other parts that I can do. I use Turbo Tax to do it and it is awesome. We were paying about $350 a year to this gross old fat disabled farting CPA guy to do them for us. In 2001, they flubbed them up. They pay some stupid girl minimum wage to e-file and she had Pickle's SSN entered wrong. Thing is, they kept lying to me saying this and that, etc, etc. I finally went up there and confronted them and told them, this is the problem. But, they insisted to me that it wasn't. Well, I told them to give me my money back and I went downtown to the Fort Worth IRS office and talked to an IRS guy who said that was, indeed, the problem. *sigh* So much for that money for professional services. So, I did get my money back and an extra $50 I think. Filed the taxes in 2002 and 2003 using the Turbo Tax. The first year it cost me about $60, last year about $54 and this year the price went down again. So, not too bad. It is just sort of scary - the gal who has a hard time balancing a checkbook and paying bills on time is filing small business taxes. Yikes. Say a few Hail Marys for me tonight.

I'm going to miss my Shrek marathons.

Feels like a Monday

Since yesterday was a holiday, today REALLY feels like a Monday to me.

My dad is having a colonoscopy today. He couldn't eat anything yesterday and I felt really bad when he made my all-time favorite meal of his - noodles and meat along with mashed potatoes. He was having to drink what seemed like gallons of water and nothing solid. Yuck. I told him that I hoped everything came out ok. He shot me a dirty look and then started laughing.

Got a call this morning from the surgeon's office that my ultrasound results are in and the doctor wants me to come in to discuss the results. My instant reaction was one of panic, but he did that to me last time when he just needed to tell me that it was a fibroadenoma and was no big deal. So, I'm trying not to worry, but can't help it. He could get me in on Monday, but that is my first day of work, I'm not going to do that to my new boss. So, I'm going to go in on Thursday morning the 27th. I asked the nurse if she could tell me if it was good or bad and she said she didn't know, but she thought if it was bad, the doctor would fit me in sooner. So, I'll take that as a good sign.

Stinkerbelle will be having her class pictures at her Children's Day Out program that day, so she'll go back to CDO that morning to get her picture made. One of the teachers there is a friend of mine and she is going to take Little Bit home with her after preschool is out. So, that worked out well.

One of the stars, Ruth Warrick, from the one and only soap opera I ever watch died. All My Children is the only show I've watched consistently since I was a kid (my mom watched it and got my hooked, which is bad). I don't watch that crap hardly at all any more because it just kills brain cells every time I do it. I sit there and wonder why I watch. So, when I discovered that Deep Space Nine is on the same time, I stopped watching.

I'm going to do career day Friday for my boys at their school. Should be fun. I'm trying to wrap up some stories this week before I start the new job. I gotta go pee in a cup today for pre-placement drug testing. Yippee, can't wait. Promised the kids I'd take them to the airport to see where mom is going to work. Stinkerbelle went with me last week, but Hot Rod is anxious to see the airplanes. I will drive under a couple runways and last time an American Airlines plane was driving over us.

Yesterday was nice. Hot Rod and I got him some much-needed new shoes, got me a new dictionary and went to eat ice cream. Then, we visited Birthday Boy again. 1 of 5 (my best friend from childhood) said my therapeutic boot makes me look like a Rescue Hero. Ha ha. Very funny. But, now that I look at it, I sort of do look like that. *shrug*

Hot Rod got to drive Birthday Boy's tractor, which he thoroughly enjoyed. The other kid was another friend that was visiting, too.

Visited with my parents for a while last night. They kept Stinkerbelle Sunday and Monday. She loves to stay with them.

Better go get everyone ready for the day. Got hair to cut, pee to be put in a cup and airplanes to see. The boys are back in school tomorrow.


Green-eyed monster

Well, it truly sucks that I actually have green eyes sometimes ... because when the green-eyed monster bites me, I feel like I AM the green-eyed monster. I'm talking, of course, about jealously.

My left-leaning partner in crime and complete polar political opposite, LabKat, helped me set up my template and get started blogging. She did all the sweating, cursing and organizing of my blog and even drove to MY house to show me how to do it. After profusely thanking her, I encouraged her to blog because she can be hella-funny when she has a mind to. (sorry for the dangling preposition, I'm tired.)

But, tonight, the jealousy bug bit me. In the TTLB ecosystem ranking of blogs, she is 4,331 and I'm 4,327. For whatever reason, I'm jealous. *sigh* I've only been doing this a few more weeks than her, but she has blogs WAY up there on the ecosystem linking to her. *insert deeper sigh here*

Now, LabKat's rise up the ecosystem really isn't the main source of my frustration. I think it is cool that she is out there and getting some readership. It is totally an ego stroke to do that. I guess my thing is that I go to other blogs that get lots of traffic and I think, I'm that good. Or am I? Then, I wonder if I should have some theme here. I wonder if I should tone it down.

Then, I just think I need to go buy some Midol. PMS sucks.

Dress for success

I got to thinking last night about the little bitchy party hostess at the gymnastics place and thinking I was being sort of bitchy, myself, about her nose ring. I have lots of tattooed and pierced friends, so why would that nose ring bug me so much and then it dawned on me. It isn't that she HAS a nose ring, it is a combination of expectations and appearance.

When you go to a children's party, you expect someone who appears to be a role model to be directing children. Now, she could have a 666 tattoo on her backside, but if she is dressed and acting like Mary Poppins, we're good. Right?

It is a lesson I learned in high school while working at an AMC movie theater. The manager told all of us that he expected us to be dressed in a clean, non-wrinkled uniform when we showed up for work. We should look nice, too. It seemed really sexist to me at the time and I asked him about it and his response made sense. He told the girls that we should have our hair fixed nicely, make-up (including lipstick) on and our nails polished or else looking very nice and clean. His explanation: We are a destination for entertainment. People do not want to come to the theater and see some scraggly person waiting on them. They want pleasant, friendly, attractive and helpful people there. Makes sense.

In college, that lesson was further ingrained in my head. I went to work for a Gingiss Formalwear. The owner, TW, was raised in the business by her dad who owned most of the stores in the Dallas area. She coached us often on how important it is to look professional. We were helping people with some of the most important occasions of their lives - weddings, formal events, quinceneras, etc. These were events that they wanted to be perfect and they wanted to work with professional, competent people. Little things that she taught me included noting what people were dressed like when they turned in an application: were they dressed professionally or in shorts and sandals? This is important, she said, because it tells you about how serious they take this job. Another sexist-sounding thing to me, but later made sense, was that she preferred to hire women (and fairly attractive ones) because men tend not to want other men reaching around them, measuring their waist, their outseam, etc.). It is all about comfort of the customer.

We live in a free-market and businesses have to make tough decisions about who they're going to present as their public face. Do you want your business to be identified with someone whose first impression is a good one or someone who makes you wonder about the competence of your company? Now, I have to admit that I'm the first one to look for the atypical person when I'm looking for a hairdresser. The flashier and stranger the person looks, it has always been the better for me. Even at my age now, my hairdresser is an older guy with a ponytail. *shrug* Just makes me feel better about having someone who appears to be a creative, thinking out of the box person, doing my hair. Now, would I think twice about having someone with purple hair doing my taxes. Maybe or maybe not. Appearances, along with personality and attitude go a long way with me.

So, go ahead with the nose ring if you want one. Just make sure that everything else about you is professional and you'll probably be just fine.

Now, those big earring things that make holes in your ear lobes ... those are just plain stupid, but that is a whole OTHER post in itself.


Arr! It was a pirate birthday!

I wish I had gotten more pirate-related birthday pictures, but there is only so much one person can do limping around 30-someodd children in a gymnastics place. My best friend from childhood thought it would be a fine idea to have a gymnastics birthday party for her now 6-year-old and invite about 35 kids because you know more than half never show up. Not this time. She had more than 30 and it was like hell on earth. Three children made me want to chew my own teeth and spit them as poisonous darts at these little hellions. Swear to God, if I would have been able to get my hands around their throats I would have choked the life out of them. *taking deep breaths* My own offspring was pretty well-behaved, which made me proud. The little party hostess the gymnastics place gave us was a piece of shit, too. First impression of her with her nosering wasn't great, but I can get around that. However, she was stupid and young. She sat 30-someodd children down and tried to talk to them over a giant boombox and give them instructions. The children had about five balance beams of assorted heights about five trampolines on which to play. She tells the children the safety things: don't jump from one trampoline to the next, same for the balance beams, only one kid at a time on the trampolines. Ok, great. Got it? Good. Only, 30-someodd kids ranging in age from 3 and up didn't get it. After about three times of starting over, she finally got them to follow the directions. I suggested to her that she assign half to one section and the other half to the other, to which she got really snotty in her response. I wanted to pull that nose ring out and shove it down her throat. I won't even get started on how abrupt she was when helping the birthday boy log who gave him what and save the reuseable gift bags and tissue.

I KNOW I'm PMSing now, but still. Worst part for me was that my friend paid $200 for all of this and the only thing that was provided was the lovely nose-ringed hostess, the facilities for an hour of fun and 30 minutes of party time. She had to bring all the drinks, the cake, the snacks, the goody bags, the party hats, all the paper stuff, etc. I'm thinking I could have made a car payment with all of it. But, fun was had by all the children, if not the parents. Hot Rod had a blast most certainly. The pirate themed stuff was really cute. The plates looked like little treasure maps and the birthday boy had a pirate's hat. Very cute.

This is the birthday boy and one of Hot Rod's best friends.

My kids call the three children in my BF's family their cousins because we really are like family, except we like each other. Here is an example of just how much our kids are like cousins. This is Birthday Boy's oldest sister pestering Hot Rod.

Looks like my son was macking on the chick next to him before big sister really pissed him off. Was sort of funny. She really is good with him, this was just one of those moments too good for her to let go by.

Hot Rod on the balance beam.

And, Hot Rod swinging on a rope. Note the Vikings jersey. Our family is in mourning right now. Please bring pot-luck dishes for the next few days.

Monday, we'll be running some errands and I'm going to take the boy back to see Birthday Boy. Hot Rod was very disappointed that he didn't get to spend more time playing directly with his buddy. So, we'll take advantage of the day out of school and one of my last days home before going to the 9 to 5 grind.

Crazy for You

Good Lord. Some people get their knickers in a wad over the damnedest things. My mom is certifiably nuts and this doesn't bother me. My brother has checked himself into a rehab thing. Still, this doesn't offend me. I think it is pretty cute.

Evidently, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company created the Crazy for You Bear for Valentine's Day. But, apparently, this is really offensive to mental health professionals and even the governor of Vermont. People are raising a stink over it, but you know what it is going to do, right? It will make people who would never give $71 for a teddy bear, get online and buy one for their lovey this Valentine's Day to send a big middle finger to people who are so oversensitive in our PC world.

Thankfully, the makers of the straitjacket-wearing teddy bear said they will continue selling the item.

Maybe it would be offensive if it was drooling and spelled the words wrong or came with a threat like a stalker. However, the Valentine's message comes with a “Commitment Report” stating “Can’t Eat, Can’t Sleep, My Heart’s Racing. Diagnosis – Crazy for You!” I think that is cute.

Sunday Hodge-Podge

Ok, my hodge podge changed days. I'm a chick, I'm entitled to change my mind.

First off, Right Thinking Girl has a post about the Flight 93 site in Pennsylvania. She traveled there and posted some of the photos she took of the site. The one that really broke my heart was a little memorial, with pictures, of a mom who died in the crash. Just ripped my heart out.

Gadfly was bored last night and came over to hang out for a while. We had made baked potato soup - which is EVER so tasty - but he is doing the Atkins thing and had to decline. So, I popped some deli ham and provolone in the toaster oven for him to have a tasty little snack. I admire him for tackling the weight issues. He's lost about 100 pounds in the past year. I wish I had that kind of self-restraint when it comes to food. I plan to work on it once I start the new job. In addition to be a writer, I'll be a tour coordinator for a construction project, so I'll be doing LOTS and lots of walking. That will help, plus giving up sodas and cookies for Lent. After a few weeks, I won't miss them and hopefully I won't slip back into the soda habit again after Easter. But I digress. Was nice to have Gadfly over. Been a while since we hung out. I think we made him appreciate his bachelor life as my children were a bit whiney because we let them stay up late. Army of Dad crashed about halfway through the Falcons-Rams game. He was pretty tired.

How about those play-off games? They've been great. The Jets-Steelers game was exciting, but I felt really bad for the Jets kicker.

Vikings game today. Hot Rod won't wear anything but a Vikings shirt these days. He has four of them. So, I'm doing laundry frequently so he has one to wear every day. He was a sweatshirt, a Randy Moss jersey, a Chris Carter jersey and just a nice long sleeve purple shirt with the Vikings logo on the chest. *shaking my head* He also informed me at his field trip last week that I'm not allowed to kiss him in front of his friends. He is only 5.

Go Vikings! Peace in my household is lying in your collective hands.

And, I guess I'm a little more concerned about the breast ultrasound than I realized, I guess. I had a dream last night that the tumor had grown three times the size it was last August and the surgeon was going to have to remove it. That was traumatic enough in my dream, but then she tells me that insurance wasn't going to pay for reconstructive surgery. That was scary. Maybe I should say this was a nightmare instead of a dream.

Lazy day ahead. I plan to do nothing constructive other than helping Army of Dad make a GIANT batch of spaghetti sauce. For Christmas, he got a stock pot, so we're going to put it to good use. We'll make lots of sauce to freeze for those nights when we're running late and have soccer or karate or something and we need a quick meal. We're also going to freeze some batches for lasagna and for LabKat's bachelorette party. I'm making spaghetti for our pre-night out events. Should be a nice time for the girls to just sit around and giggle while enjoying Army of Dad's awesome spaghetti sauce. He really is a good cook. If chefs didn't have such busy schedules that keep them from home in the evenings and on weekends, I think he'd probably have been a chef instead.

Tonight, Hot Rod is going to a birthday party at a gymnastics place. My mom is going to keep Stinkerbelle over night. Pickle is with his dad till Tuesday. So, we'll have some one-on-one time with Hot Rod and mom. Should be nice. However, Stinkerbelle will be entirely TOO spoiled after a trip to my mom's.


Things I like

While waiting at the hospital for my boobie ultrasound today, I started thinking of all the things in life that I like. Being a writer, you can guess what I did next: I wrote them down.

Random things I like
1. Del Amitri's song "Roll to me"
2. designated hitters
3. the peace I feel when I pray
4. overtime in NFL playoff games
5. men in uniform
6. PKs in soccer
7. breasts
8. men opening the door for me
9. good manners - please, thank you, excuse me, God bless you
10. editors who tell me I've done a good job
11. the feeling when I've paid all the bills and have money left over
12. when Army of Dad says "I love you"
13. when Army of Dad touches my face
14. when the children tell me "you're the best mom!"
15. having a good education
16. seeing my children reading
17. ice cold Dr Peppers
18. rat terriers
19. Nolan Ryan
20. having time to read
21. having a good book to read during that time
22. gift giving
23. Jack FM 100.3
24. a good haircut and dye job
25. having a multitude of good friends
26. bellinis from Olive Garden
27. a clean house
28. working in the garden
29. hummingbirds
30. babies
31. going to the movies
32. cheese enchiladas
33. old U2
34. having a fire burning in the fireplace
35. penguins
36. when I look at other people's kids and realize mine are pretty well behaved
37. being healthy
38. good sex
39. throwing a good party
40. my family (ok, most of them)
41. seeing my byline in print
42. Christmas carols
43. muscle cars
44. sewing baby blankets by hand
45. a content Army of Dad
46. MXE
47. JK Rowling's world of Harry Potter
48. buttery nipple shots
49. Star Trek
50. surfing the net
51. Crash by the Dave Matthews Band
52. Law and Order
53. chocolate covered almonds
54. raw peanuts
55. Calvin and Hobbs comic strip
56. CSI
57. strong shoulders and muscular biceps
58. Latino men
59. minor league hockey
60. Sex on the Beach drinks
61. cheese ravioli
62. chips and queso
63. I'm not really a waitress nail polish on my toes
64. soaking in a hot bath
65. hot rock massages
66. men with shaved heads
67. Chick Fil A sandwiches and waffle fries
68. Lord of the Rings books and movies
69. going to the museum with my family
70. pictures
71. hearing my children laugh
72. the Shoe comic strip
73. lounging by the pool without having to watch children
74. road trips with Army of Dad
75. Cocoa Beach, Florida

Things I'm embarrassed to admit that I like
1. tribal tattoos around a guy's bicep
2. tractor pulls
3. Hall and Oates
4. oldies music
5. talk radio
6. Toxic by Britney Spears
7. minivans
8. Justin Timberlake
10. South Park
11. American Chopper
12. Ricky Martin
13. Ellen DeGeneres show
14. shopping at Dollar General
15. Hi and Lois comic strip
16. Barry Manilow
17. the tattoos hoochie girls get on the small of their backs
18. eating at Hooter's
19. The Cowboys
20. The Rangers
21. Tejano music
22. Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson
23. country music, overall
24. dirt track races
25. the taste of beer on Army of Dad's breath

Lazy Saturday

Well, I'm still fighting off the trolls. As offensive as I am, I'm glad some of you keep coming back. I told one of the trolls (every time I say this word, I start singing the Grumpy Old Troll song from Dora the Explorer, I just can't help it) in my comments section that I will gladly remove the word "conservative" from my section of "about me" because if that is what a conservative is, I want no part of it. Maybe I'll change the word to Republican. For while I don't agree with everything the Republican party or President Bush wants to do, it is more where my political orientations lie. The big issues - I guess is the way to say it - are right-leaning. I'm a little on the pervy side, so I guess that is offensive. Turn back now if it bothers you. My apologies.

Ok *taking deep breaths* back to the task at hand. I'm re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in anticipation of the Half-Blood Prince coming out this summer. I'm so excited. I think I'll go reserve a copy at Hasting's this week. The book is much more fun the second time, around, too, because I don't have to think quite as hard at remembering who is who since I have some familiarity with it from before. This book introduces a lot of new characters and since I can never read very much at one time with a busy life with three children, then it is a little harder to absorb than if I had hours of peace and quiet in which to read. Regardless, I anticipate getting some reading in while I'm waiting for my breast sonogram this afternoon. I'm very anxious about it and can feel my stomach churning. I forgot to ask when I'd get my results back, but I bet it is no longer than a week or two at most. I'm not terribly worried about it. Ok, so I just lied. I am anxious about it, but I'm far too busy to waste too much time thinking about it. I have to get everyone ready for my return to work on Jan. 24. Plus, I have at least two stories to write in the next week for my freelance work. I got another assignment on Friday for a Homeland Security publication. I'm very excited about this one. I believe it coincides well with my political opinions.

And, lastly, Army of Dad took Pickle to the gun range this morning to shoot the 22 he got for the boys for Christmas. Since Pickle made the A honor roll, this was a special dad-kid time by themselves. The boy was afraid to go because the one and only time he has ever shot, it was a 12-gauge and it had a giant kickback on it and it hurt. So, he is concerned this will hurt. I think once he gets there and realizes this won't hurt, he'll love it. He started karate last night, too. He loved it! Here he is beaming in his new uniform. He was a little embarrassed about his chest showing, but he got over that quickly and really enjoyed himself.


Anxiety looms

I knew it was fast approaching and I guess getting it over with is easier than putting it off. Sort of like ripping a Band-aid off the hairiest part of your arm or something. You know it is going to hurt like hell, but you might as well get it over with in one fell swoop.

I am going to the hospital Saturday for my follow-up breast sonogram. New readers may not know, but in July a lump was found in my left breast through a routine mammogram. I was only 35 at the time, but I'm a cancer survivor and my mother is a breast cancer survivor, so my doctor is sharp enough to send me in before 40 for mammograms. After the lump was detected, we did a breast sonogram and then a biopsy followed in August. The doctor said I had a fibroadenoma, which is just a benign knot. Still scary as hell and now I'm freaking out about going in tomorrow. The doctor "tagged" the lump and I was told to repeat the breast sonogram in six months. So, that is pretty much, well, now. At least it isn't painful. It just isn't near as much fun as a sonogram when you're pregnant and you get to see a baby moving around in there. If anything is moving around in this sonogram, I'm writing a script for the Sci-Fi Channel and cashing in.

Anyway, the past seven months have not been my best physically speaking. I'm like a car in that month or two after the warranty has expired and everything starts to break down. I really hope Army of Dad doesn't plan on trading me in for a new model any time soon.

I'm so sad

You know, I really shouldn't let it bug me, but it does bother me that someone would make an allegation that other parents shouldn't let their children in my house because somehow I'm immoral because of the bachelorette veil I posted below. That just breaks my heart.

I can't seem to get into blogging right now. So, I guess I'll return to cleaning house and doing my chores. I presume that I'm not corrupting any children by doing that.


Michael Moore caption ideas

Ok folks ... more photo caption ideas. This may be too easy.

I'll take two more Big Macs with extra mayo.

All riled up

What an interesting way to start my morning off - being told I'm not conservative enough and then questioning my parenting skills because I might *GASP* buy a goofy veil with little penises all over it for a bachelorette party. I find it completely amusing, although a little infuriating, that somehow my parenting skills are being questioned for this. It isn't like I was going to buy it and give it to my 2-year-old daughter to play dress-up with. Come on people. Grow some brains.

Most of my left-leaning friends are probably cracking up at someone questioning my conservative side, too. I'm guessing the trolls that stopped by only have sex for pro-creation and not to enjoy the company of their partners.

I know I'm pretty judgmental, but I think my trolls here make me sound pretty forgiving. I'm guessing these folks who got the bug up their butt didn't see the *gasp*nipple pic the other day or maybe that one was ok, but a little plastic penis or two is just too much because God knows we wouldn't anyone to see one of those.


Help me decide

I'm in full gear to host a bachelorette party for LabKat and now I'm going to let my faithful readers - all 20 of you - help me pick the best way to torment her.

For her bachelorette party, we're going to do a spaghetti dinner complete with dessert and a little "girls only" party with adult novelty items *wink* and then we're going to see mostly naked men at LaBare. Well, for all of the evening's festivities, she is going to be wearing one, two or all of these items. You help me decide.

Choice A: the Miss Bachelorette Sash

Choice B: bachelorette veil

Choice C: the feather boa

I think we'll have to make her wear this identical outfit if we go with the boa. *snickering*

Ok guys, help me vote in the comments. A, B or C or all of the above. You can also make contributions toward her dollar bill jar to help some deserving homosexual work his way through college by shaking his moneymaker for LabKat. Email me if you want to contribute and I'll set up a tip jar.

Banning sudafed

State Sen. Craig Estes is from Wichita Falls, but I think he is our representative, too. Well, another case of good intentions gone awry. He has proposed legislation that will essentially ban sudafed.

This site shows how dangerous methamphetamines are, but I don't see how banning sudafed or making it cost more by making a prescription required to get it is going to fix things. Great, another example of how people who do bad things make people like me suffer. Right now, I can go to Dollar General store and buy sudafed for $1. If I have to get a prescription, it will be $15. Yeah, great deterrent.

Senate Bill 107 filed by Estes proposes to prohibit over-the-counter sales of single entity forms of pseudoephedrine, but would still allow for liquid, gel capsule and liquid capsule form in which pseudoephedrine is not the only active ingredient.

I see the idea behind it. I just don't think this is the answer.

In memory

It was nine years ago today that little Amber Hagerman was kidnapped as she was riding her bicycle close to home. A man grabbed her, threw her into his pick-up and drove away. People witnessed the crime and reported it, but the culprit has never been found. Her body was found on Jan. 17, 1996. She had been raped and her throat slit.

It was in her memory that radio stations and law enforcement got together and developed the Amber Plan to announce information on the radio about missing children, just like they would announce about severe weather alerts. It started in the Dallas area in 1997, but went national in 2000.

Although the Amber Plan is named after Amber Hagerman, this national program is dedicated to all children nationwide who’ve been abducted. How often does it happen? According to the U.S. Department of Justice, up to 4,600 children are abducted by strangers every year (about 12 children nationwide every day).

God, that is a scary statistic: 12 children nationwide are abducted by strangers EVERY DAY. I think I'll hug my kids a little closer tonight.

This is little Amber. She was 9 when she died.