Serious but hardly sober

30 09 2009

There isn’t very much I’m serious about.  I’m serious about books.  I’m serious about… um, not much else.  Just about everything needs levity or else it will suck balls.  (My 2 yo nephew says “that sucks balls, uncle Bob.”)

With books – don’t break the spine.  Don’t fold the pages.  Don’t roll it like a newspaper.  Don’t let it get wet.  Use a fricking bookmark.  Don’t turn pages while eating cheetos or wasabi or spaghetti.  Don’t stack them horizontally.  Don’t leave them in damp places.

Books are SRS BSNS.

Lately I’ve been taking pics of our antiques and hobbies to post to Flickr.  Some are going up for sale at Etsy.  Mostly, I’m looking at pictures.

…and I’m getting really ill at people!  I’m ill that I’m ill about it!  Really, things should be used.  There’s no point in having a collection of “oooh, pretty” if you’re never going to enjoy them.  Smoke your pipes, eat off your dinnerware, put stuff in your cabinetry, wipe your hands on the embroidered towels.  By all means, use it now because things exist to improve the human condition.

I’m just seeing that so many people have more money than sense.  They get these gorgeous collector’s items that have been loved and cared for.  Things that have lasted two and three lifetimes.  Then they just FUCK THEM UP!  They treat these things like status symbols and take pictures of themselves doing stupid things.  They don’t love the thing or the history of the thing or the people who loved these things.  They love the attention that owning the thing brings them.  Even more, they love having 300 of exactly the same thing and being able to brag about their things when the only thing they want is to feel superior.

So what?  Why does it matter to me?  I don’t have the money to save these things and honestly, the more of them that are destroyed, the more money my well-cared for things will be worth.  Rarity makes value and perceived value is always more relevant than actual value.

What’s important to me is that the thing be loved.  If it’s loved, then every blemish makes it more valuable – not to the outside world, but to the family who love that thing and the people who love the people who love that thing.

On my wall, amid late 1800s Austrian china, is a thick and crudely gilded dish.  One handle is missing and the broken spot has been worn down because even after it was broken, it was still used.  It was my great-grandmother’s and my grandmother tells me that Great-Grandma served the bread for dinner every single night on that dish.  She said it never failed that G-Gma would serve either rolls or bread and always on that dish – even long after it was broken.  It hangs on my wall amid things with immense value because it has immense value.  It has a family and a story and a history.

If you love something, then you take care of it.  Right?  People – please learn to take care of your things, whatever they may be.

*This post is not about items that are recycled, upcycled or repurposed.  It’s about things that when used in their intended way, but in a careless manner, are destroyed.


Internet superstar

27 09 2009

It’s been an odd couple of weeks since my last post.  It hurts my brain just to think about it!

1.  Shaun and I went to my high school reunion.  In school, we used to say that no one would show up to our reunion because our class lacked school spirit.  Seriously, the student council didn’t give a rat’s ass and neither did anyone else.  It was 1999 and we were all facing going into college or into the work force with little to no money.

There were maybe 50 people at the reunion and I did see a friend who I’ve known since kindergarten.  We didn’t talk much in high school and I think I found out why.  She made a passing comment while we were catching up that stuck with me.  “Of course you’re doing well, you’ve always been perfect.”

I wonder how many people actually know that’s not true.  I screw up as much as anyone, I just don’t tend to dwell on it or get caught in the downward spiral of screwing up.  I’m not even an eternal optimist – I’m definitely not one of those smiley, cheerful people.  It’s food for thought.

2.  Sick kiddos.  Actually, only one was sick.  The other was faking it.  A had a fever and just laid down and stared at the TV.  Her school has had about 50 different viruses going through it, so we thought it was strep at first.  It wasn’t so it may have been a UTI (just a very small amount of bacteria was in her urine) or it could have just been one of those flu bugs.  She’s all better and back to her goofy, normal self.

3.  Ramping up for the “anniversary effect” of the PTSD.  A goes through the anniversary effect during October.  It seems like every time she had to move foster homes, it was right around Halloween.  That stuck with her.  Last year was TERRIBLE so hopefully this year we’ll be prepared for whatever comes.  I’m already stocking up on aromatherapy stuff and reinforcing the fact that she never has to go anywhere again.  She’s home.  She’s already started to panic a bit so we adjusted her morning medications and that seems to have helped.  We’ve also briefed the school and we’re keeping on them about her mental state – it took a while to get them to take us seriously but now it seems like everyone is on board.

With LJ, we’ve just seen more sexual acting out.  He retreats to this fantasy world inside his head and doesn’t seem to realize what he’s doing.  It’s not regression – it’s more like he’s living in a fairy tale.

He’s been talking a lot about “grandmas.”  His favorite kind of pie is the type grandmas make.  Grandmas make sweaters.  Grandmas take care of you and give you cookies.  Grandmas have white hair, wrinkles, and glasses.  Yesterday, I finally got fed up with it (in Goodwill of all places) and told him that he got his grandmas and they weren’t going to change.  Neither grandma has white hair, neither one knows how to make a scrap of clothing, and one of them couldn’t bake a pie if her life depended on it. In reality, there’s no such thing as a “perfect grandma.”

I grew up without grandparents being an active part of my life.  Neither set approved of my parents’ marriage and we most often just made it on our own.  He did spend a lot of time with his bio-grandparents before he came into state care, so I don’t want to ruin those memories but he’s taking them a little too far.  I don’t want him to get older and see them and realize how bad it was for  him.  They loved him – they just don’t have the skills to take care of themselves, much less a child!

We went through this a month or so after he moved in with regards to his bio father.  It got to the point that I had to sit down with him and ask if he wanted to know the truth of the matter or just continue to believe what he did of his dad.  He said he wanted the truth, so I told him.   I may have to enlist my dad to explain it to him.  My dad’s childhood is very similar to LJ’s and they have this great bond.  I think he’d take the truth better from Dad than from one of us.

4.  Sick mommies.  It’s been odd – very odd.  My grandma was sick for a bit, then my great-grandma passed away almost a week ago.  Then grandma went down to FL to bury g-gma next to g-gpa and she got back yesterday.  My sister has been sick and my mom was for a little bit but recovered very quickly.  Then a couple of days ago I started having a fever and today my throat feels like I swallowed some hot sauce.  I must have gotten that strep that was going around.  *sigh*  So, tomorrow I’ll go to the doctor and get more antibiotics.  I’ve only been off the antibiotics from the surgery for a week!

5.  Flooding.  Lots of it.  We live northeast of Atlanta and thankfully in the foothills of the Appalachians so our land is soggy and puddly, but we didn’t get any water inside the house.  Thank God!  Even 5 miles away houses were destroyed and the traffic accidents have been terrible.  We went to an antique store yesterday – it’s about 7 miles from our house – and on the way home saw two accidents happen. My heart goes out to everyone that lost their homes, cars, and in some cases, families.

6.  Big internet sales!  Since we’ve been home bound from the sick babies and the flood, I’ve been on the internet a TON.  We’ve sold a couple of pipes, sent some lace to Japan, mailed  out 6 books on bookmooch, and I’ve started uploading a ton of stuff to flickr.  I’m working on a pipe resource, so hopefully I’ll have that available soon.  I also want to get some pipe related merchandise up in the Etsy shop, but I’m missing my computer parts.  I’m spending time with a hard drive clock today.

7.  Got LOTS of fabric.  I love Goodwill.  Seriously.  I got a ton of fabric for an average of 30 cents a yard and I also got some bed sheets and pillowcases that I can use.  I found some gorgeous blue eyelet cotton that I was SUPER excited about.  Got some corduroy, some raincoat material, a ton of cotton, and some linen.  It’s going to be fun!

This has been a long, long post lacking in cohesiveness, so I’m going to end it here.  Hopefully I can pick this blogging habit back up so I don’t end up with 300 things going on at once.  Good times!

throw-away days

6 09 2009

17 days post surgery

The past week or so have just been throw away days.  I’m supposed to be still so my body can heal itself.  I feel like a puppy that just got fixed and it’s KILLING ME to not run around and play.  This past week, I started bleeding and got my dad to take me up to the doctor where I just sat in the waiting room and shook for an hour or two.  My body had attacked one of the stitches and formed a huge clot around it so the dr took it out, did some blood work, then sent me home with another prescription.

I have mixed feelings about this doctor’s nurses.  They’re nice enough but they seem too caught up in their own office drama to actually give a damn that this is pretty serious – at least in my own opinion.  I’m sure they listen to a lot of bitching each day from cranky people but dang.  The nurse that took my blood got pissed off that a drop of blood flipped off the needle and landed on her pants – after she stabbed me three times looking for a vein that hadn’t been blown.  Apparently I was too stressed for her to find a good vein… of course, there’s no reason for me to be stressed at all, right?

So Shaun took the rest of the week off and he’s off tomorrow too for Labor Day.  He’s been enforcing the “chill out” rule.  I’m getting ill watching House marathons and I thought that would never happen.  So, I’ve done little stuff – crocheted and sewed, fixed clothing, watched every episode of Project Runway that was on the DVR and season 3 of Psych, every episode of House and seasons 1 and 4 of Bones.  We don’t have 2 and 3 on the HDMI yet, so I didn’t bother with the DVDs.  I dug out my most recent sketch book and put down some quick ideas for some uniform clothes for the chickpea.  Sorted buttons with chickpea and LJ.  Read Terry Goodkind’s new book.  Read my Real Simple magazine.  Finished Kathy Reich’s new one.  Upgraded to a Flickr pro account.  Ordered some business cards.  RSVPd for my 10 year reunion.  Threatened E-baby with ratting him out to Grandpa – E’s current best buddy – if he kept throwing tantrums and being a badass.

Oh yeah – that’s a good tip for all y’all parental folks.  Tell the kid you’re going to call in the grandparents and that was going to be SOOOOO BAD.  I remind the rugrats that the gparents raised ME and I’m meaner than a hornet so while they know nice grandmommy and grandpa who spoil their little asses – they really don’t want to see the bad side.  That stopped a full blown tantrum in its tracks last night.  Suddenly, E’s face wasn’t red or wet from crying, he stood tall and looked me in the eye like a big boy.

The chickpea has been stealing straight pins for some odd reason.  I think she’s interested in the fact that they’re sharp but small… she has the weirdest obsessions at times.  She’s super observant of stick pins but she thinks climbing the built in bookshelves won’t cause her any harm at all.  Um… that’s a little backwards, kid.  You could stick a straight pin all the way through you and you’d still not be hurt too bad.  If even one of those shelves breaks, though, that may be the end of it.  I’ve climbed them before (to show it really was anchored well) but still – you don’t take chances like that.

I need to get some real work done but I don’t like sitting at the computer for long right now.  I have about 15 things to get up on Etsy and I need to start working on a branding for Shaun’s antique restoration stuff.  If I don’t get something to do, I’m going to end up watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta and that would be very bad.

So, the time out was useful

31 07 2009

I called my dad and he said “that’s what you get for using that fucked up carpet.”

He means this stuff.  We put in Legato tiles before the kids moved in for two reasons – I’m allergic to carpet padding and this stuff is really really nice.  We did both kids rooms for less than $500 and it’s PLUSH.  Also, if it stains, you just jerk it up and put down a new tile.  With 3 large dogs, 3 kids, and 2 cats – this is very useful.  Poop and barf are daily events in our house.  (This is also why all our furniture is leather and the rest of the house is done in laminate wood flooring.)

However, it also means that it only took me 10 minutes to repair the entire room – all by myself.  Once Dad calmed me down, I talked to the girl child about money.  If she’s going to tear stuff up, I’m not going to have any money to buy her pretty clothes or cool toys.  I let her know that if she keeps tearing up the house, I will take her existing toys down to the kids’ only second-hand store and sell them until I had enough to pay for repairs.  On one income, we don’t have enough to cover her tantrums.

She seemed sobered up by that, so we went out to do our errands.  We were going to take Dad to lunch but he was covered up at work and this migraine was already starting.  It’s one of those “everything touching my skin hurts” kinds so I’m not laying down for now.  Once the pain meds kick in, I may be able to.

We did, however, stop and see Dad at his shop.  Even with his hands covered in grease he saw what I had and snatched it up.  I made him a clock out of an obsolete Bigfoot hard drive and a hammered metal picture frame.  As I’m yelling “don’t scratch the drive!” he’s showing his buddies at work.  I told the kids to stay put (they don’t know shop etiquette yet) and caught up to him as he’s telling the other mechanics “look what Cyndi made – it’s a hard drive!”  I didn’t even get to get a picture of it before he ran off with it!

We hugged and he informed me that he would start taking apart his old hard drives for me to make stuff out of.  Two weeks ago, I had to practically STEAL the hard drives from him to make this batch of clocks.  We had the “if it’s got less memory than a flash stick, is it considered ‘good'” conversation.  He even gave me two nice torque drivers to take apart the ones from last time.  He apparently approves of their new functionality.

Bigfoot drives come in two discs, so the other one is on Shaun’s workbench.  I accidentally scratched it while adding some detailing, so I’m going to have to figure out what to do with it.  I’m thinking I’ll lightly sand all of it in a swirl pattern to give it a brushed metal look, then coat it with acrylic sealant.  I really hope it works because the metal detailing on it is beautiful. If need be, though, I’ll paint it.  The shape is nice enough to keep, even if I ruined the face.

The AC guy should be here soon.  If the central air did die, we’re just going to put in a couple of window units until our next tax return.  Dad has one he said he’d give me and we can afford another window unit.  The main part of our house is only 1100 square feet, so that should keep us from melting until we have a more secure income.

There was a conversation on Etsy about a week ago that is sticking with me.  It was about whether to give stuff to family or to make them go through the business.  I was on the 100% free for family side but it shocked me how many people said “if I were a retail store, I wouldn’t give them anything.  Why should I now?”  I just think that’s sad.  I know a lot of families aren’t as close as my immediate clan is, and I can understand that some people’s families are little more than genetically bonded.  I just know that if I didn’t have my family, I would be up shit creek without a paddle.  We support each other and if any single one of us is doing without, the rest of us are there chipping in.  It’s like a commune except for the whole living under one roof part – we have 4 roofs in a 15 mile radius.  We did only have two, but then Mom’s family decided to leave paradise to join the commune.  We do huge family gatherings every other Sunday and two days from now, even Dad’s mom is coming.  My family is the reason that me and my sister can stay at home with our kids.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.  To me, if Mom and Dad asked for everything I’ve ever made, I’d give it to them and call it a fair trade.

Family isn’t about whose blood you have.  It’s about who you care about.  ~ South Park

An idea and advice for special needs moms

28 07 2009

If you read my blog often, you probably know that my daughter who is 5 has chronic PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.)  The chronic part means that she’ll probably always have anxieties related to certain situations.

One of the most disconcerting parts of PTSD is the anniversary effect.  For foster parents – this means out of the blue, life goes flipping crazy!  It took us about a week to realize that all of Alyssa’s major changes in life had happened right around Halloween.   She had been sketchy and nervous for about a week before a caseworker visit so we mentioned to the cw that she had separation anxiety and that she needed to tread softly.  Historically, caseworker visits had not gone well with the children.  The kids would get so scared, they’d freeze like a deer in headlights and wet their pants where they stood.  It took days of hugging and rocking and reassuring before things went back to normal. Alyssa has a defense mechanism of telling people what they want to hear when she gets scared.  She wants them to go away – and telling them what they’re asking gets them to go.

So, the caseworker came and it went like normal for those visits.  My sister was in the hospital, so I was heading out the door and Shaun was going to put the kids in bed.  Alyssa did not sleep that night or the next three.  She regressed all the way back to infant stage and blocked out the entire world.  She would not leave my side, even to go to the bathroom and when I turned my back, she grabbed my razor and tried to cut herself.  She would only play with some baby toys I kept for my nephew when he visited.  This was not normal anxiety – this was scary.  (Later we realized this had happened with her last foster parent as well before she moved in with us – on exactly the same date.  She had pulled large patches of hair out and had sores all over her head when she came to us.)

We called everywhere we could think of but on a weekend with a 4 year old child, there aren’t too many resources available.  There’s a crazy long waiting list for any children’s hospital equipped to deal with mental health issues.  We were told just to provide 24/7 supervision and to do what we could.

I did what I do – I got online and signed into a foster parent support group I was a member of.  One of the ladies who I love totally to death suggested a blanket that was satiny on one side and fleece on the other.  She said it was what calmed her children when nothing else would.

Children are incredibly tactile.  They will sit there and rub something in between their fingers for hours.  They love sand, water, hair, everything they can get their little fingers and cheeks on.

I gave Shaun a kiss, and headed out to the mall.  I got this blanket, a white noise machine that played jungle animals across the ceiling along with a lullaby, some pacifiers, and some aromatherapy stuff.


It’s easy to find stuff to sooth babies.  It’s not so easy to find a blanket that is fleece on one side and satiny on the other.  I got it home, sprayed it with the aromatherapy stuff (chamomile and vanilla,) wrapped her up in it and sat in the rocking chair.

Thank God, the internet, and foster parent support group – she got two hours of sleep.  That blanket went with us EVERYWHERE for weeks.  She rubbed it, she sucked on it, she wrapped baby dolls in it, she wore it like a cape.  It still holds special honor in her bed by laying next to a fleece covered body pillow.

So, etsy family, I need you guys to make that more available!  Moms who need something to help with your child – try one of those blankets.  My friend said her children with PDD-NOS, autism, separation anxiety, drug addictions, and developmental delays all loved it.  It’s helped Alyssa so much that I’m going to be in the market for one for each boy come Christmas time.

The only thing that could make it better was if it were lightly weighted.  Weighted blankets help people with autism spectrum and anxiety disorders sleep better.  (Really, read the article linked.)  It’s like an all night hug.  I sleep better with tons of blankets – I have OCD which is an anxiety disorder – and it’s easier for me to sleep if I feel secure.  Speaking of that… etsy folks – anyone want to make a grown up blankie?  😀

Geek Chic

26 07 2009

I am so proud of this necklace!  I’ve been working on it for what seems like forever and I’m going to be so happy to see it around someone’s neck.  I love the delicate chainmaille.  It’s one of those pieces I’d love to keep, but I know I’d never wear it – I’m allergic to metal.  I’ll be happy enough to see it being loved against someone’s bosom.

It’s for sale here.

chainmail necklace 1

chainmail necklace 2

chainmail necklace 3

chainmail necklace 4

chainmail necklace 5

It’s just so delicate and feminine yet strong and bold.  I’ve had the chain mail for a long time – it was made my Avon in the late 70s and the pendants are from other pieces of jewelry.  The turquoise is from yet another piece of jewelry, but fit perfectly as the center of the sun.  It seems they were predestined to be together on the same piece as they are the same color of stamped brass and nestle perfectly into each other.

Caution: busy day ahead

21 07 2009

I can’t believe we’re less than 3 weeks away from school starting.  May and June were crazy months and thank goodness we’ve been able to have a quiet July.  My goal in July was to bore the crap out of the kids so that they’d be excited to go back to school.  I don’t think it’s worked yet… they seem happy to sleep in until 9 am, hang out in pj’s, and watch PBS.

I found out yesterday that the charter school Alyssa will be going to did get their pre-K charter.  I called up and they had lost Ethan’s paperwork (not surprising since his name dramatically changed with the adoption) but they did go ahead and put him on the waiting list.  It would be the best possible thing for him to be able to go to pre-K there.  Otherwise, I’m going to homeschool him during pre-K.  He’s one of those kids that does not do well in a normal school environment.  He’s not quite ADHD like LJ is but if there are other kids around who are not focused, then he won’t settle.  His brain works a lot like mine – he absorbs info, files it away as irrelevant at the moment, gets bored, then creates trouble.  So, I’ll file his paperwork with them today so that hopefully he’ll get in soon.

For Alyssa to get admission, I had to register her under her old name during the last school year.  There are only a certain number of spots available and it’s further broken down by the child’s primary language.  It’s a dual-immersion English/Spanish school and they also teach Mandarin Chinese.  Hopefully it will challenge her enough to keep her out of trouble.  Pre-K for her was like a lesson in futility.  She already knew EVERYTHING they were teaching the other kids (she’s on a 1st grade level) and decided that meant everyone else was stupid and she was therefore in charge.  With some kids, they do that and get this air of bravado and adults think “he’s going through that arrogant stage.”  With her, she really does believe that we’re all here to serve her and suggesting otherwise  does not compute.  Of course, she is smart and beautiful which means people DO line up to give her things.  She had talked her teachers into giving her 3 lunches a day, THREE!, letting her roll around in the dirt during recess, taunting other children, and basically acting like we will not let her act at home.  It’s all ok with them because she’s cute and smart and gives you those big green puppy dog eyes.  All this does is reinforce the thought that she’s a superior being stuck in a smaller body.  Or something.

There’s a reason my kids act like civilized human beings.  I don’t fall for the BS and I have no fear of saying no.  I don’t use fear or intimidation to keep them in line, they just know the expectations and they know I’m not going to back off of them.  This does mean we talk a lot about the meaning of words like upset, disappointed, unhappy, discussion, responsibility, and who is in charge.  We can actually eat a meal in a sit-down restaurant with the kids.

LJ will be going to the school across the street from us.  He didn’t get accepted into the charter school, and that’s probably for the best.  He didn’t walk or talk until he was 5 and he’s still behind in language and social skills.  Because he was non-verbal, his test scores showed that he was mentally retarded and he was held back a grade and stuck in special ed.  There’s nothing wrong with that because he did need to learn the basics but he has made so many strides since then that you’d never guess he wasn’t always “normal.”  He was in a regular class last year and recieved speech therapy and social skills therapy several times a week.  This year, he’ll still receive services, but they’ll be integrated into the class so he doesn’t get singled out or pulled away from class.

I really hope he gets a young, active teacher this year.  Last year we had all sorts of trouble with his teacher.  He needs someone interactive – not someone who hovers and scowls.  Doing that puts him on defense and he retreats into his fantasy world.  Then everyone who wants to play ball during recess is stealing his stuff and every time someone bumps into him in line means they’re deliberately trying to knock him down and get him into trouble.  This causes meltdowns and tantrums.  Then he’s scared to go back to class because he knows that’s not a “good reaction” so he does stuff to get sent out of class.  Things like picking his nose until it bled so he could go to the nurse’s.  Making himself throw up.  Stomping on another kid’s foot.

When we figured out what was happening, we started playing games at home during homework.  When learning was a happy thing and he felt safe doing it he immediately started getting better.  He was making 30’s and 40’s before we started and after he was getting 90’s and 100’s.  Still, we couldn’t convince the teacher that he’s not a bad kid – he’s a scared kid.  She didn’t see anything wrong with her methods and would tell me “I have 20 kids in that classroom!”  20?  Really?  That’s all… huh.  That’s a TINY class.

Anyways, I have to register all three for school today since their names, birth certificates, and social security numbers have all changed. So I need to get them all ready to go while I fill out the paperwork here.  Thank God that it’s all online and all I have to do is print it out.

I also need to run to the post office.  We made a sale on Etsy!  Yay!  I also had a book mooched on BookMooch, so I need to send it out.  After all that, we’ll be back home and do lunch, then they get naptime and I get to list some more lace on Etsy.  If I get a chance, I need to go out in the garage and get a coat of primer on the keys.  Shaun’s going to do the metallic paint for me since he’s got a steadier hand and has more experience with oil-based enamels than I do. I also need to clean the bird cage, our bathroom, and my workstation.

The kids are up and the boys are already in trouble, so it sounds like time for breakfast!  Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!