Monday, December 29, 2008

Most Difficult Post of My Life

They look like real guns, don't they? They aren't. They are part of a new trend in toys.

These are "Airsoft" guns. They are marketed as safe because they shoot plastic pellets, or BB's.

Three days before Christmas, and just a few days after her 10th Birthday, My Taylor was shot, at close range, in the right eye with one of those.

It was a complete accident, no one was to blame. The gun accidentally went off.

After a trip to the Emergency Room, we were sent to the best ophthalmologist in town, actually out of town (because of the Holiday), the prognosis was a tough one.

If Taylor stayed on complete bed rest for five days, she may in might, ok. She had severe Corneal damage. There was bleeding behind her eye, and the permanence of the damage couldn't be seen because of the trauma.

Christmas was.....horrible for her. She got a scooter she couldn't ride, video games she couldn't play with and art supplies she couldn't use. Through it all...she was a trooper. She kept telling ME it was ok, that she would rather save her eye, that the toys would still be there when she got better. My own little Tiny Tim.

Her Christmas Dinner was ......right here:

The chair where she spent 5 days. The only time she left it was to go to bed with me. Her Zoe close by. She wasn't allowed to lay flat, so I kept monitoring her at night to make sure she stayed semi upright.

Today, we went back to the Doctor. The news isn't great, but it's not bad.

Tay has a traumatic cataract. The blood is gone, she is showing improvement, but still cannot see. Her Dr gave her a referral to see a Retina Specialist next Monday. Dr sees some shadows on her retina that concern him.

Over the next few weeks, Taylor can resume activities. Slowly. She is not expected to resume normal activity for a couple of months. They will fit her for glasses to see if her vision can be corrected with them, rather than surgery.

The support from family and friends has been astounding. Nancy over at Nancy's Nonsense posted my plea for prayers. Putting her own health concerns aside for my baby.

Taylor's Grandmother is out of the country, so she doesn't know. I hope that when I do speak to her, that I have only the good news to tell her.

This is about to be a New Year...and quite frankly folks...........we need those prayers for a miracle.

Along with those prayers, we need a real good look at these "toys" and the damages they can do. If any of you know someone that knows someone, that can help either for more awareness, or education, or other parents that are going thru similar situations........let me know.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Double Digits!

Wow, time does fly! Taylor is in the Double Digits this past week!

Yes, little, sweet, opinionated, stubborn Taylor. And she had a HORRIBLE time (can't you tell?)

That would be (from Left to Right) Taylor, Eddie, Megan and Tristin. Her best friends.

Eddie only stayed for the pizza and cake, but the girls spent the night.

And had a fashion show:

And Taylor took the prize:

I am in SOOOOOOO much trouble!

I wonder what she was wishing for?


I love you more every day and I didn't ever think that was even possible since you filled my heart the day you were born, and every day since.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Morality or Censorship

This will be controversial, but I want honest thoughts from my friends here.

From my paper, the Northwest Florida Daily News, comes a controversy that as a parent of a High Schooler, is vitally important to me.

"FORT WALTON BEACH - A book about struggle, redemption and coming of age in Afghanistan is under fire in the Okaloosa County School District by a parent concerned about the novel's "mature content."

Laura Stovall submitted a Request for Reconsideration of Educational Materials to the school district after learning that "Kite Runner," written by Khaled Hosseini, would be used in Choctawhatchee High School's International Baccalaureate program. She also read the book before asking for reconsideration."

We have two High Schools here in Ft Walton Beach. BOTH of them are listed in the top 1000 High Schools in the country. We have a huge military presence here and most kids come from families that deal with the realities in the Middle East on a daily basis.

Added to that, this is a baccalaureate program.

That means, these kids are getting college credits for this HS class.

That's the history, now the point:

My freshman in college Lit 101 reading list included:

The Canterbury Tales. My English Lit professor referred to the Lady of Bath in the story. His comment: "Listen People, you are just not getting it! What Chaucer is saying is that he picked her up like a BOWLING BALL!"

The Decameron: By Giovanni Boccaccio. Ribald tales that included gardeners pretending to be mute, deaf and dumb to get it on with the nuns in a nunnery. A priest who ravages his confessionals.


Or not.

How many of you remember The Catcher in the Rye"? That was commanded reading in my VERY Catholic ALL GIRLS boarding school!

What did my lit professor and the School Sisters of Notre Dame know, that this parent just doesn't get?

There is graphic text in literature. Even in revered literature. And understanding it, and applying it to life is why it's taught.

Ashely doesn't attend Choctaw HS, she is at it's rival, Fort Walton Beach High School ( GO VIKINGS) . At her school, this book; Kite Runner, is required reading for the SOPHOMORE class.

It's a beautiful book. It has some very difficult chapters, some more graphic than I would like, but it is a true depiction of life in the Middle East. It is well written, truly enthralling, and has been compared to To Kill a of my personal favorites of all time.

Life lessons are not easy. Sometimes they involve graphic, harsh words. Sometimes they are flowery, like Shakespeare's or Chaucer's. Sometimes they are in your face like J.D Salinger's.

Sometimes harsh life is romanticized like in the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, or even Le Miserable, by Victor Hugo.

I believe that this parent's argument is a pure and unadulterated attempt at censorship. Her child has the option to opt out of the class, or to read other material. But that isn't really the point, is it?

These days, High Schools are treacherous ground. Our kids know more, and talk about subjects, that would make us cringe. BUT......

If we speak openly and honestly with our children, tell them that what they see IS out there, but we EXPECT them to rise above it...........

Make clear what we believe, what we live, what we choose to achieve.....they will not be swayed by the harsh rap lyrics, or even by this beautifully written book.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our New President Elect

Sorry guys.

I know I have to post about Obama, but I have to think this one out for a while.

Bear with me.

You know, I didn't vote for him. And I know that if he royally messes things up, we have the interim elections.

I don't care if he is black, or yellow, or purple.

His socialistic views bother me.

I am a true conservative and a true capitalist.

The good news is............As a single mother of two....with no child support..MAYBE Obama will make my life perfect................


Somehow I think I can do that better on my own.

Thanks Obama, but no thanks.

We'll see how it goes.

And for all of you out there that tell me I have to respect the office? When you quit calling Bush a monkey, and stupid.........THEN talk to me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night

Someone please explain THIS to me:

What is it, why did Obama choose it? Is our Old Glory not good enough? Is our flag, which I have looked on with pride for my entire life, just not enough of a symbol of who we are as a country?

Is there some reason why this:
Just isn't good enough anymore?

Some of you know me well, some of you know me a little, but My Flag......OUR Flag, will be the only one that matters to me EVER. I can see it this way:
I can even love it like this, when our country was still young yet:

What I won't tolerate is this:

Or that OBAMANATION (pun(and poor spelling) intended) of what is in front of Obama every time he speaks.

THIS IS MY FLAG: And I will serve no other:

Even when it looks like this:

And SPECIALLY when it looks like this:

I have always believed that THESE COLORS DON'T RUN! They are mine, and yours.....

Not that milquetoast of a sad attempt that Obama wears so proudly.

Today, Election day, I am here to tell you as an immigrant (legal) in this country......I only have one flag, and OBAMA, Your's AIN'T IT.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Taylor Wants to Be When She Grows Up

Remember Taylor?

She's the PUNK??

She is very definite about what she wants to do when she grows up. She either wants to be a scientist, or a pilot. She also thinks of going nowhere else to college but MIT? THAT Taylor?

She visited one of our museums today.

yes.......that is The Mother Of All Bombs(aka MOAB). They have been tested here twice. Once on land, once over water.

Back to Taylor.......

Being the experienced flyer that she is (simulator that is)........this was her FAVORITE field trip.

She got to see a B52 Bomber (up close and personal)

A Stealth Bomber (my personal Fav)

And some really HUGE Helicopters........
With HUGE rotors:

Some really old planes too!

All in all a day in hog heaven for Taylor.

Credit must be given to the photographers, Taylor and her classmates. Maybe when they bring the F-35's here to Elgin AFB, they will get a special invite to see them!

Also... A Special Thanks to a great school system that encourages these young minds to be proactive in the pursuit of math and science education. Taylor and her classmates are in an accelerated science program, that allows them to fly flight simulators, learn about the universe and basically experiment with some really KOOL things!


The HUGE hint that I dropped to one of my dearest friends may have gotten the job done. It may be, that when the first F-35 lands here in January, Taylor's class may be one of the ones who get to see them. IF that happens, I will keep you all updated, but pictures may not be immediately available.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The End of An Era

Many of you get your newspaper delivered every morning. Most of you never really give it much thought.

I work for one of those newspapers, and ours is being "regionalized". It's not a big city paper, it's certainly not the "Times" or the "Washington Post", the people who live here on the our little bit of sand, this has been their newspaper for as long as they remember, or as long as even their grandparents remember.

I want to give you all a glimpse into what this is. I will do this in two parts. The first part, I will show you the mechanics, the second half..........I will let you know how this effects YOUR community. That paper that you get on your stoop every morning starts here:

Thousands upon thousands of pounds of paper (click on the pictures and you can enlarge them). Rolls so big that the awe you just to look at them. Different sized, some for the daily paper, some for the inserts that you get, or your weekly entertainment section. But they are huge!

Moving on, the ink.

These are the small vats of ink. The colored ones. Blue, Red and Yellow (all your primary colors). these vats are so big that tankers have to refill them by hose. I didn't get a pic of the "black" ink tank because it's HUGE and in a corner that is very dark.

Onto pre-press. Pre-press is what happens when the creative services department of the paper does their thing, and they send it to this GINORMOUS machine to make the plates that go on the press, that actually prints the paper. These plates are laser scanned. Let me show you.
All the way to your right is where the metal plates are stored. Immediately to it's left, is the laser. It finely etches the plates. As it comes down the line, ultimately it end up to your far left, where the metal plate (the size of a full unfolded newspaper page) is notched on the ends to fit on the tumblers of the press.

This would lead us to the press.

It's a truly ugly machine. Sometimes, walking around it, it reminds me of a Stephen King novel. I swear that the thing breathes and has thrived on it's share of human blood.

But, before you look at it just as an ugly machine, I have a small tale to tell:

One day, because the machine always made me nervous, I was walking thru this very long room....all alone. Hearing the noise of my heels on the concrete, I decided this GREEN MACHINE was not going to freak me out. Thinking there was no one around, and listening to the rhythm of my heels on the floor, I started to sing..........IN THE JUNGLE THE MIGHTY JUNGLE, THE LION SLEEPS AT NIGHT.............before I knew it, (they are actually two presses) out of the belly of the beast, I saw three pressman's heads peek out. They got a good laugh out of it, I was embarrassed, but it was all good.

Back to the beast.
Yes, that long strip of white in the front, is the newspaper about to be printed.

Cool, huh?

You know those inserts that you get in your paper? Coupons, Entertainment issues? Those are processed here:

This is a machine that inserts all those things into the paper. An attendant stands at every station. What looks like scales to you, is actually a shaker. It makes sure that all the inserts are aligned so that when you get your paper, it's all nice and neat.

Here's how those inserts get into your paper:

Yes, it's another machine! But it takes a lot of personal labor to make this work right.

For those of you that read your comics on Sunday.......I read your Sunday comics on Tuesday.....almost a whole week before you do. Here's what they look like while they are awaiting insertion into your Sunday paper!
When you are awaiting your horoscope, I've already read it! Just kidding, I don't peek.

You know those grocery coupons that you get in your Wednesday paper, and those coupon books you wait for on Sunday? Here is how they come..........and we can't even peek at those before the date that they get into the paper (yes, not even employees get to see them). But this is what they look like on days before they find themselves in your paper:
The reason I am telling you all of this, and showing you this, is twofold.

First, my paper is closing. The press will be gone by December. We are regionalizing our press operations to a "hub" location with a new digital press. It is more efficient.
And second, because if people continue to get their news on line, all the people that work these fabulous machines, are out of work.

There will be no more local news, we will all eventually turn into a "USAToday" forum.

It just isn't practical for us to produce newspapers anymore.

In a era, and an election year, where we blame our government for loss of jobs, we never do look to ourselves.

Something as simple as buying a newspaper can keep the people that live in your community employed. Some of those people have been working hard to bring you your news for most of their lives.

When we talk about economy, how do we see ourselves? Canceling our newspaper subscription may be our own personal revolt against the editorial staff. Little do we ever think about the ramifications of our actions. That our very own neighbors might work on the press, or be a carrier.

Do we ever think about how this mass exodus from the printed word affects our neighborhood? Our neighbors?

It's simple things like this that we miss, when we all live in a "global community"

If we continue to look to our "government" to save jobs, maybe we ought to look to ourselves and how our daily purchases influence the jobs in our neighborhood.

***Disclaimer*** All of our waste paper and metal plates are recycled. We also donate $500,000.00 a year to Newspapers in Education

Participants in NIE donate their newspapers to the students in local schools. Through special features like Kids Scoop (a half a page of activities for kids), to special stories, and an online curriculum for kids, parents and teachers, children learn to use the newspaper as a learning tool.

Please check with your school system to see if they subscribe to NIE.

2008 START! Heart Walk

I am keeping this on top for awhile, because it's an important cause. Donate if you feel the urge, but please do not feel obligated.

This year, the girls and I will be raising money and walking in the START! Heart Walk.

Our goal is to reduce coronary heart disease, stroke and risk by 25% by 2010.

If you would like to donate to our efforts, please use the link to the right of this page. If you would like to participate, start your own team, please click HERE to go to the American Heart Association's Heart Walk Page

Disclaimer: All donations go directly to the American Heart Association's official Site.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My dear friend (and most beautiful soul I know) Nancy, Meme'd me.

As much as I love her, these always require so much thought. Only, because it's Nancy, will I comply dutifully.

1. What were you doing ten years ago:

Ten years ago, I was caring for a four year old, and was pregnant with Taylor. My life wasn't perfect, but it was pretty close. My dearest friend and I were excited about the new baby. We had no clue that my friend was dying of cancer yet and were doing well. I just settled a lawsuit for $10,000 against the employer who fired me for having the nerve to get pregnant and we had gone out and bought all new appliances.

2. Five things on my to do list for today: (tomorrow, today is over)

1) Get ready for the end of the month (accounting at newspapers is always deadline driven)

2) Finally get on the spreadsheets that are going to force a major nationals client to pay their bill

3) Take Ashley to school before sunup and come home to take Taylor an hour later.

4) Pay my water bill

5) Take that hot batch I keep telling my friends to take, that I never do.

3. What is your favorite snack?

You don't really want to know. I eat strange foods. I love Herring with onions in sour cream, baked brie on a cracker, or spicy chorizzo with melted cheese and a little cayenne pepper!

4. If I were a millionaire, I would:

Buy A HOUSE with all the windows and light I want, on the water! Put money in trusts for the girls, prepay their college...

Donate the first million I ever get to Hospice care.

5. Places I have lived:

1) Bremen, Germany

2) Margarita, Panama Canal Zone

3) Ft Lauderdale, Florida

4) Niles, Ohio

5) York, Pennsylvania

And on and on and on.

6. Five people I'm tagging:

Heh Heh Heh......

This is where it gets fun.

1) Pam @ Pam's Ponderings ( I love ya Pam and all your hugs just got you pegged!)

2) Bronie @ Team Victory, because she needs a giggle

3) Didi @ Meyers on the Hood....just because she is the most inspirational person I have ever met.

4) Megan @ Fried Okra, because I don't ever get to her blog enough

And Finally:

5) Diane @ The Do Drop In, because she needs to get off her duff and post already!

Have fun All!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Shameless Critters

It never ceases to amaze me that animals are so shameless.

I mean, take Oliver for instance. He is the most shameless creature I know.

He spends all night terrorizing us in our sleep. Then he does his due diligence every morning, sunning himself on the window ledge, or by the storm door. God forbid that another cat should enter his haven, he bristles and raises his fur, growls, like the ferocious beast that he is. Only to get back to the work at hand. SLEEPING.

He does that so well!

He does have his good qualities though. He guards the laundry that needs to be folded, OH SO WELL!

Look at the look...aren't YOU scared?

I wouldn't mess with that laundry.

He makes sure that there are no dust bunnies under the furniture.


But, at the end of the day, he's shameless.

He doesn't much care who watches, or what he's doing.......

But at least he's sweet, and we love him. Antics and all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life In Hurricane Alley

They are truly a force of nature, a beautiful, potent reminder that there are forces stronger than any man.

This is our busiest time of the year. When you live in Hurricane Alley, you learn to be part meteorologist. You learn to read trends in the High and Low Pressure systems. The Weather Channel is one of your favorites.

There is nothing more frightening that having one of these monsters set his sights on where you live.

Ike was one of those.

I have lived in Florida my whole life, but until Ivan, I had conveniently always been somewhere else when the big ones hit. I only saw the aftermath of Andrew. I had been at a convention in Orlando that weekend, and drove home to a 180 sq mile ghost town. It wasn't until weeks after that I saw, first hand, what destruction one of these suckers can do.

Ivan was a different story. I had never actually had one bearing down on me and I was frightened. Allen and I were together than, and I was safe, but proceeded to hide in my bed. I did peek outside once in a while and saw some of the oddest things. Rain, moving sideways, trees completely bent in half.

I still wouldn't live anywhere else in the country. Crazy? Perhaps.

You really get a feel of what kind of community you live in after a disaster strikes. The bond, the neighbors that you rarely see other than waving hello occasionally....rolling up their sleeves to rebuild. Sometimes time and time again. People with generators, who have power, sharing those with people who don't. Meals shared on grills on a cul-de-sac, because it's cooler outside the house than in it.

Today, in the aftermath of Ike, we see that spirit. That great, All American spirit.
The spirit that moves mountains (or very large trees). The churches fill up, because as awed as we are, we know that without spiritual guidance, some things are just too hard to bear. And then......comes the donations.

The church hallways that absolutely fill to the brim with any thing anyone can give, to those who lost, sometimes everything. People who have so little sometimes, that they give until they can't give anymore. People who dedicate time. If a family needs a mother to go help clean up, another neighbor, who may not be able to do physical labor will take all the kids..feed them, play with them. People who offer everything from vehicles to transport what needs to go, to those who need it, to people who take time off of work when they cannot afford to, because someone needs their help more.

The storms are horrible, but never as tough as the human spirit.

Today, as Galveston and Houston dig out, those same people are already ready with aid. just waiting for the notice that it is safe to bring all these things to the people who need them

Is there a greater expression of how God works in all of us?

I don't think so....What do you, my bloggy friends think.

I love you all and think of you often.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Changes and New Additions

I know you all remember Harley.

In my breakup with Allen, he and his father used power, fear and intimidation to take him away from us. The girls were devastated.

The girls were so upset and I didn't know what to do to make them feel better. One day at the copier at work, I noticed a poster someone in advertising put up. An ad rep and his wife were having a baby and needed to get rid of their cat. I kept looking at it, and shaking my head. I didn't want another pet. The loss of Harley hit us all very hard.

Yet the more I looked at it, and the more I thought about it, I started to think "why not?" We had a cat before, but had to get rid of him because Allen was allergic. Since he isn't a part of our lives anymore....why not. I asked the ad rep if we could take him for the weekend and see how it went and he readily agreed.

Meet Oliver:

He's a little haughty, a little crazy, and downright lovable.

The girls are happier and the house feels like a home again.

They were very upset that they had to leave him for their first day of school today, but Oliver managed just fine. I came home for lunch and our new little man DEMANDED attention that I was all too happy to give him.

Life moves on sometimes, even if we are reluctant.

In other news, I had a blind date on Saturday. Surprisingly, it went very well. He dressed well, spoke well, and was very charming. Maybe it was time for us all to move on.

I miss all of you my bloggy friends, but know I am back now. And stronger than ever. I can't wait to get back in the habit of chatting with all of you. The storm has passed. God does answer prayers ya'll. There are still changes that need to be made, but everything is looking forward, not back.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Life Moves On

Wow, it's been an eventful week. The summer is coming to a close and I would like to tell you what the girls have been up to.

Ashley has joined ROTC.
She did a week of orientation and she is loving it. Today Ashley is volunteering with her unit at an Italian Festival at the Convention Center. She may have just found her niche. I really hope she does well, because this could mean so much to her future.

Taylor, like always, is the All Star. Just this week, she has received congratulatory letters from Alexis Tibbetts, our Superintendent of Schools
And our State Senator Don Gaetz, who is our previous Superintendent of Schools.
In recognition for her being one of the top mathematic FCAT scores in the state. her score was almost perfect.
I am so proud of both of their achievements. They are such great kids, and they teach me so much.

These past few weeks haven't been easy for them either, but somehow they remain so positive and keep their smiles firmly on their faces.

ROCK ON LADIES! You are the best there are!