P is for Planning

P is for Planning

PI am the first to admit, I am horrible at planning. It’s not that I don’t have goals. It’s not that I’m lazy… okay, sometimes it is. I guess it’s not a priority to me. I’m sure those who are reading this who are planners have a hard time understanding that concept.

I don’t remember dates, so if I plan too far ahead, I will absolutely forget. For example, hair appointments. Instead of scheduling my next appointment while I’m still at the salon, I just wait until my hair is unbearable and then call to schedule an appointment… preferably for that day.

Sometimes plans change, so I take a proactive stance and wait to see if an event is really going to happen before I commit to it.

I’m not going to lie. Life would be simpler if I took some time to plan ahead and being open to improving my life, I plan to plan more. One area I will start planning more faithfully is in figuring out ahead of time what my kids need to do for their school work that day. Then I can write it down and they don’t have to keep asking, “What should I do next?” I used to plan a week at a time when I was teaching, and that worked pretty well. I should try it with homeschooling.

Okay, now I plan to finish this so I can go ahead and plan something for the letter Q.

Thanks for stopping by!

M is for Mom Plays Minecraft

M is for Mom Plays Minecraft

Once again, I am behind schedule with the A-Z Challenge. I have a lot of catching up to do.

This will be short and… well, short.

Minecraft is fun. My kids got me into it and now the whole family plays. Just for fun, I’ll share some of the screenshots I took recently of my Minecraft world.

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I’m collecting chickens. Yes, those square things are chickens.

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My player (MCMom70) surrounded by chests… and chickens.

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A Minecraft sunset.

Sometimes I Think

Sometimes in the quiet of the morning, before everyone is awake, I give myself time to think. Sometimes my thoughts wander to what I need to do that day. Sometimes I think about a book I’m editing. Sometimes I think on a deeper level and look inside myself.

Sometimes I find that my mind is focused on the wrong things. Maybe I allow the small stuff to take up residence in my head and heart because it’s easier to face than the hard stuff—the things that really matter.

Recently, I forced myself to take a step back and ask what is really worthy of my time and energy. This was very freeing; once I realized how much I was allowing myself to be emotionally drained by the petty things and decided to let them go, it was like coming up for air after being underwater for too long.

So, who/what is worthy of the space in my head?

  • My son and how we need to address his social anxiety and Tourette syndrome. The road ahead of us as we start the process of having him assessed for Asperger’s syndrome. His future. He deserves to be on my mind.
  • How to meet the needs of my younger son who is gifted in many areas. I feel like I fall short when it comes to encouraging and nurturing his growth in these areas. He also deserves space in my head.
  • My health. I’ve always been blessed with good health, but ever since my dad died and I lost my job, my health—physical and mental—has not been a priority. Depression will do that. I need to make changes.
  • My marriage. God knows I am far from the ideal wife. My husband deserves the best of me and I haven’t given that to him for a long time. Again, changes.
  • My friends who are struggling. Those I care about who are sick, have sick children, can’t make ends meet, who are grieving… they are worth it.

And who/what is not worthy of the space in my head?

  • People who don’t deserve to be there. Those who act like friends when they want or need something but will toss that “friendship” aside when it suits them.
  • Undeserved low opinions from people I don’t know and who don’t know me. I like to be liked… I admit that, but there are people will never like who and what I am. Wondering why and having my feelings hurt? Not worth it.
  • Grudges. I’ve never been much of a grudge holder. I forgive and move on easily. Every once in a while, though, something will happen and I enjoy disliking someone who hurt me. Is it worth my energy? Not at all.
  • Unhealthy criticism of myself. I am much harder on myself than I am on others. If I feel like I did something wrong or let someone down, I will beat myself up over it. It’s time to give myself the same grace I extend to others.

And now? I think I’m done writing this post.

Language, the Source of Misunderstanding

Featured imageAs far back as I can remember, I have hated being misunderstood—especially when that misunderstanding ends up making somebody feel bad. My earliest memory of this happening was from when I was probably four or five. I don’t remember the details, but it must have been one of those rare occasions when my brother and I weren’t at each other’s throats. I think I gave him a piece of my candy or something like that. I remember him saying, “Thank you.” I was feeling very generous and in my mind, I didn’t want him to feel like he had to thank me. I tried to express this by saying, “You’re not welcome.”

To my surprise, he immediately became upset and told my mom that I was being rude. I obviously didn’t understand the whole idea of saying “you’re welcome” to someone. I figured it was an obligatory answer you just said when someone said thanks. I remember so clearly how sad it made me that he thought I was being mean… especially since I was trying to be nice. I tried to explain to him what I meant and he wouldn’t hear it.

It wouldn’t be the last time I was misunderstood this way. We wouldn’t be human if such misunderstandings didn’t occur from time to time.

What I think sets some of us apart, however, is how we respond to being misunderstood this way. When I care about someone, I hurt when they hurt. To think I may be the cause of this pain is like a stab to the heart. I don’t know how to feel any other way. I can’t turn off being empathetic or sensitive.

Recently, an incident occurred that reminds me a lot of what happened with my brother. There was a third party involved who I felt misunderstood something I said and I needed to know if I owed an explanation to a friend concerning what I meant. I should have just let it go because the more I tried to understand how my words may have been interpreted, the worse things got with this third party. It all just went downhill; the misunderstanding only grew. We both ended up angry and upset.

Long story short, I lost someone who I considered to be a good friend and the friendship of another person who I liked. Interestingly enough, the friend I was so worried about hurting was fine and we are still friends.

I’m not going to claim to be innocent in the whole matter. I’m not claiming to have handled things perfectly. I’m an impulsive person; some things hurt deeply and I react too quickly. Sometimes there are other things going on in my life that may influence how I react.

I am hard on myself, but the one thing I can say is I am someone who can own up to my faults. I forgive quickly. I don’t hold grudges. I have no problem apologizing for my actions when necessary… and I have.

So, what can I learn from all this?

To slow down. To know when I’m not in the frame of mind to interact with others when there is a chance for misunderstanding. To not involve third parties or fourth parties or fifth parties…

I’ve also learned who my real friends are. I’ve learned that just because I see life as too short and friendships as too important to let a misunderstanding come between us, not everyone thinks the same way. I’ve learned that I can apologize but not necessarily receive forgiveness. I’m understanding that just because I am willing to own up to my faults, that doesn’t mean others will do the same.

Now I’m moving on.  I’m saving my tears, pain, and guilt for people and circumstances worthy of it.

My dad dying? Definitely worthy of my tears.

Losing the job I loved? What kind of person would I be if that didn’t hurt?

The guilt that tries to choke me daily concerning whether I’m doing enough for my son who I’m certain has Aspbergers? While somewhat irrational, it’s worthy of my  concern.

The opinion of people I’ve never really met and whether or not they care about me? Not worth it. So not worth it.

Looking back, I can see these people were not my friends. They are actually the self-proclaimed leaders of something equivalent to a high school clique and everything that goes with it. I’ve never been very fond of cliques and certainly never fit into any. I’m okay with that.

I wish them well. And that is all.

Through a Mirror Darkly

My First Independently Published Book & Why I Wrote It

Through a Mirror Darkly is a short story I wrote under my pen name a couple months ago. I self-published it last month through Amazon. I wrote it originally for an anthology that was published this month. It has been categorized as a horror story, but it’s more than that.

When I think of horror stories, I think of crazy, knife-carrying clowns with fangs chasing a group of horny teenagers at a deserted camp. Through a Mirror Darkly has a paranormal element to it, but it’s also very loosely based on my own experiences with familial and personal depression.

When I wrote it, I didn’t think it would end up being therapeutic for me, but it was. I never had a chance to say goodbye to my mom when she died. I hadn’t seen her in over 35 years. After my parents separated, she tried to kill herself. I was barely seven when I heard her crying out from the other room. To this day, the memory of finding my mom on the floor, begging for help wrenches my heart.

After that, my dad got custody of my brother, sisters, and me. She was eventually released from the hospital and given visitation rights every other weekend. Despite her therapies and medications, she was not emotionally healthy and tried a few more times to take her own life.

Eventually, she stopped coming to pick us up for our weekends. The last time I saw her, I was nine years old. I never really missed her… maybe because her withdrawal from our lives was so gradual. Maybe it was because I was such a daddy’s girl. The only thing I was ever angry about was having to find her the first time she attempted suicide. More than anything, I hated the pity people would express when they found out I didn’t have a mom.

Looking back, I realize I spent my life in the shadow of my mom’s suicide attempts and depression. I was adamant that I would not be like her. I would never be weak like I thought she must have been. When I had my first child, I was even more resolved that I would be nothing like her. And I was a great mom: attentive, patient, happy, ambitious. For the first time, I resented her for leaving her children because I could not understand how anyone could do that.

Then, I had my second child. I knew something was wrong in my last trimester. I grew depressed, anxious, and obsessed about irrational things. I told nobody and figured it would go away after I got to hold my baby in my arms, but it only got worse. He seemed to cry all the time, he was a horrible nurser, and nobody but me could hold him. At the same time, my three year old demanded my attention.

I sank into a dark place. I found myself resenting my baby. I started having anxiety attacks when he would cry. I remember wondering if I could place him for adoption. I was sure someone would be a better parent to him. I didn’t want to admit I was “weak” like my mom. I spent my life being everything she wasn’t. I spent my life not being what she was.

Around this time, Brooke Shields wrote a book about her experience with postpartum depression called Down Came the Rain. I do not know where I would be if that book hadn’t ended up in my hands. As I read about her depression, I realized something: this beautiful, intelligent, talented woman was admitting she needed help overcoming her depression.

I decided that was where I would be different from my mom. I would get help before it was too late. I had to be strong enough to admit that I was weak. I was ashamed and embarrassed, but I did seek help because of my love for my boys. With the help of antidepressants, I became more like the “old” me again. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, and I still take medication for it.

When I found out my mom passed away a couple years ago, I felt I needed to do something to “release” her… to let her know I finally understood her. I needed to let her know that she had my forgiveness.

My goodbyes to her were put on the back burner, however. The same day I learned of her passing, my dad was undergoing surgery. Complications arose and he almost died. From that time on, his health deteriorated. He almost died several times in the months that followed. Emotionally, I couldn’t focus on my mom’s death. My dad had priority. He died five months ago and I miss him terribly. I always thought my first book would be dedicated to him, but as the story, Through a Mirror Darkly, wrote itself, I realized it was a book for my mom. It was my way to say goodbye, to let her go with my forgiveness.

I’ve always found comfort in writing, and this story was no different. It also brought healing. I believe in the afterlife. I believe she needed to know that she is forgiven. I feel I needed to tell her this for her sake and mine. I hope she has finally found peace and wholeness.

If you are interested in the fictional account of my story, you can get it on Amazon. It’s less than a buck and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. If you do read it, please leave a review on Amazon. Reviews help independent authors like me. Thank you!51AiuzkwVtL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)

U is for Uterus

U is for Uterus
That’s right– uterus.
Sorry, men. You don’t need to read beyond this point.
That point… up there.
I guess you want to keep reading. Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Anyway, I’m getting mine taken out tomorrow. It has finished its life’s work and now it needs to go. I can’t say I’m going to miss it.

An Uterus Eulogy
So long, uterus you served me well
and then you started to give me hell.
Maybe it’s because you got too old
or were two babies too much to hold?
So, to organ heaven you must go
and make sure you take that monthly flow!
No hard feelings, I wish you the best–
thanks to you, I get three weeks of rest.

S is for Scary Stories

Just when I got caught up with the A-Z Challenge, I got behind again. We went camping for two days and just returned this afternoon, so I’m back to trying to catch up. Anyhow, here we go…

S is for Scary Stories

As mentioned above, we have been camping for the past two days. One of our favorite things to do is tell scary stories around the campfire at night. My two sons and their friend, Maggie, insist I tell them a spooky story every time we go. On our last camping trip I came up with a pretty good one! I know it has to be good because it was very effective in scaring the kids, but not so much they will be traumatized forever. They also request to hear it again and again, so they must really like it.

Here’s a little bit of background for you– we love camping in the mountains not too far from where we live. Palomar Mountain State Park is located in north San Diego County. It’s where my family used to camp when I was very young. It’s now where I bring MY family to camp. I love the place! Palomar Mountain is widely known for its observatory, but the camp grounds and hiking trails are also excellent.

The campground we go to is located near Doane’s Pond, a very small pond that is mostly used for fishing. The story I made up for the kids is called “Catherine, the Ghost of Doane’s Pond”. The gist of the story is that a man named Obadiah was trapped when the gold mine he was excavating on the mountain caved in. His young bride-to-be (Catherine) was so heart-broken, she drowned herself in the pond. Her ghost still wanders the pond and surrounding area today, calling out to her true love, Obadiah. On some nights, you can even hear the trapped miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside as the sound echos through the valley.

The first night I told the story, my younger son insisted we walk the short distance to the pond to see if we could see Catherine. We did, but we didn’t get very far because we heard a loud “snap” off in the trees ahead of us.  He was sure it was the ghost and I was sure it was a mountain lion, so we turned around and ran back to our campsite as quickly as we could go. After we explained why we were out of breath, my older son decided he needed to check it out. So, down we went again– my two sons and me. We didn’t even make it as far as the first time before one of our flashlights started to flicker and turned itself off. At the same time, my younger son swore he saw a white, glowing figure over the pond.

It was hilarious to see two boys (ages 8 & 11 at the time) squealing and running in fear. They were loving it, though! They were positive the flashlight acted up because of Catherine’s electromagnetic field.  It became a legend in their minds and their recounting of our experience got scarier and scarier each time they told it.

This last trip, my boys’ good friend wanted to visit the pond area at night so she could try to see Catherine. She even brought her GoPro to document it. The boys were scared, Maggie was scared, and I was hoping they would get freaked out (yep, I’m that kind of mom). About halfway to the pond area, Maggie’s flashlight started to flicker. The creepy shadows cast by our lantern seemed to grow longer and become more active. Even my phone, which I was using to “document” the kids’ reactions, started to act strange.  The screen saver page wouldn’t flip up to allow access to the camera. It actually got stuck in a strange, broken up pattern I’ve never seen before. Weird coincidence!  I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried! Even my younger son’s camera supposedly stopped working. Then, Maggie (12) and the boys (now 9 & 12) all said they saw something over the pond. This ended in another frantic, squeal-filled run back to our campsite.  And they loved it!

That same night, as the kids were trying to settle down in the tent, a pounding sound filled the campground.  It was probably someone chopping wood or pounding in a tent stake, but in their minds, it was Obadiah and his fellow miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside.

I will never tell them I made the story up. I’m sure they will figure it out when they get older. For now, I’ll let them enjoy those moments of being just a little afraid. They are bonding experiences and make for great memories.



Monday’s Meanderings

* I wrote this on Monday night.  Fell asleep on the couch just as I finished.  Woke up at 2 am and realized I never posted it.  Technically, it WAS a Monday.*

So, it’s been a while since my last post.  There have been a few reasons for that:

  1. I’ve been busy grading papers and calculating report card grades
  2. Minecraft is very addicting
  3. Thanks to my aging uterus, I became so anemic the only thing I wanted to do was sit around and wallow in a pool of lethargy– which I did for about four weeks

Well, report cards have been sent home and I won’t have to do another batch until June.  Mincecraft is still addicting, but I’m managing my addiction… a little.  And the whole problematic, anemia-causing uterus thing has been temporarily alleviated with a steady dose of iron.  In three weeks, it will be permanently taken care of with surgery (yay me!).

Yesterday, my nine-year-old decided he wants to participate in a “Zombie Walk”.  He’s not even into Zombies, but his interest in the walk was sparked by an old episode of Cake Boss.  In this episode, a couple wanted a cake made for their zombie-themed wedding.  I couldn’t really hear what was being said on the TV, thanks to my talkative 11-year old.  From what I gathered, though, the couple had met at a Zombie Walk and were really into zombies.  Obviously.

Now, I like zombies and all, but I think if I had to get married again, I’d do it surrounded by a beautiful forest or a quiet beach somewhere. In attendance would be a few close friends and family.  But, that’s just me.   There are all kinds of people in this world, and some of them want a zombie wedding.  I guess it’s not all that strange… it really can’t be much different than getting hitched in Vegas. That place is its own kind of freak show, filled with dead-eyed people pushing buttons on video slot machines.

Anyway, back to my point:  Thanks to Cake Boss, my son was intrigued with the idea of a Zombie Walk and wanted to know more. Being the type of mom who encourages a well-rounded education, I hopped on YouTube and found some videos of different Zombie Walks around the nation.

Turns out the videos made him want to be a part of a Zombie Walk.  I think what sold him on the idea was the clip of the “zombie” gnawing on a human arm (fake, of course– I hope).  As a result, it looks like the San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Zombie Walk is in our future.

My son immediately started searching Amazon for an edible human arm.  He hasn’t found one– yet.  But when he does, I hope it’s on Prime.  I immediately hopped on Facebook and announced to my FB world that my son wants to do a Zombie Walk and who would be interested in joining us.  Apparently, quite a few people want to do it with us.

I have learned to take those first enthusiastic “I want to do it!” comments with a grain of salt. Over the years I’ve heard my share of “Yes! A ______________ sounds like fun!  I’m in!” Fill in the blank with “marathon”, “half-marathon”, “session at the shooting range”, or “surfing lesson”.  People’s plans change… their minds change.  I’m no different.  We’ll see how many still want to join us when July comes around.

I’m not sure what kind of zombie I want to be.  It’s a Zombie Walk & Prom.  I never went to prom.  My parents weren’t going to fork over the money for a fluffy prom dress & matching shoes.  I was on my own for that.  I was frugal back then and decided anyone who asked me would have to be worth the $150 bucks it would cost me to go.  The guys who did ask me had bigger hair than I did (it was the ’80s), wore skinny jeans, and didn’t appreciate Bob Dylan.  Not worth my hard-earned money.

So, do I do the walk as a Zombie Prom Queen?  Nah… I’m too old for that.  I’m thinking I should go as a Zombie Prom Chaperone. Maybe as the teacher who’d rather be somewhere– anywhere– other than at a hormone-fueled high school dance.  We’ll see.  I have until July.  By then, I’m sure my son will have his edible arm.  By then, those who want to do the walk with us will be committed. And, by then, I will have my zombie identity figured out.


Mom is a Noob

I have discovered a fun, new way to waste my time– as if I have so much of it to waste, I need another way to do it.  Like most of my time-wasting activities, it involves the use of the computer.  My boys have been playing this one computer game for a couple years now… almost to the point of obsession. My friends’ kids play it, the neighbor kids play it, and many of my 4th grade students play it.

There have probably been 5,476 times that I have reached the point where I’d almost rather lose a toenail than have to hear one more word about creepers, spawning sheep, villagers, red stone, diamond pick axes, whose world got griefed by whom, and all the other numerous terms that are related to this game.

If you are familiar at all with this game, you have already figured out I am referring to Minecraft. When I first saw this game and my sons announced they want to purchase it, my first reaction was something like, “What?  You want to spend how much on a game with graphics that look like they belong in the late ’80s?”


Archaic-looking Minecraft farm animals. 

Well, we did buy & download the game for them. The boys have been wanting me to try it since the day they discovered it.  I always said no. I just didn’t see the appeal at all– until a few days ago, that is.  

For a week or so, my sons and their friends have been involved in a Mindcraft-based game called “The Crafting Dead”.  It’s sort of like The Walking Dead in square pixelated form.  Being the zombie geek I am, it sounded and looked fun!  I wanted to play.

I take my zombie survival pretty seriously, though, so I figured I better learn the basics of the game before I attempt to take on zombie hordes and other players who won’t think twice about killing me for my survival supplies.

I began my venture into the world of Minecraft in the safest mode possible (single player, creative, in case you’re wondering) by building a simple two-story home made of Lapis Lazuli and aqua-colored wool blocks– apparently wool blocks are as strong as stone blocks in Minecraft.


My awesome wool & lapis house

The best part of my house is the glass roof/ceiling.  I put some of my farm animals up there.  That way I can see them from inside when I look up.  It puts a whole new perspective on farming.  Fortunately, they don’t poop.  That would be a mess!


The view from inside my house, looking up. This just makes me happy!

My boys are so excited that I’m playing.  My students are impressed and think I’m quite possibly the coolest teacher in the world. It really is a fun game!  And it’s much more advanced than I first thought.  I’m amazed that somebody was able to design a game like this.  You have to play it to understand.

In addition to my house, I tunneled a Zombie stronghold into a nearby mountain. It has escape routes, iron doors, a dining hall, bedrooms, a recreation room, and a meeting room.  It’s pretty awesome.


2014-03-09_14.01.42My fortified zombie stronghold

So, as you can see, I have been having fun with this game.  Until last night, that is.  I finally got up the courage to play the “Crafting Dead” version with my son and I got killed by zombies within minutes of spawning into the world.  Every. Time. I. Played.

Turns out, I don’t like getting killed by zombies.

For now, I think I’ll stick with the peaceful game mode, where zombies don’t kill, spiders don’t attack, skeletons don’t shoot, and other players don’t loot your home.


I leave you with this image: An aerial view of my rooftop farm animals.

*Noob= A new, inexperienced Minecraft player; often ridiculed and taken advantage of by more experienced players.

Night Owl in the Morning

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a night owl.  If I could choose my own schedule, I would sleep from two am to ten am.  But, as with most people, I don’t have the luxury of making my own schedule.  Work, kids, family, appointments, etc. all join forces to make sure I don’t do what my body naturally wants to do.  I’m OK with that, it’s just how life is.

As a natural-born night owl, I have always resented having to get up early in the morning.  Recently, however, I discovered the pleasure of having about thirty minutes to myself in the morning before everyone else has to get up and get ready for their day.  There’s just something wonderful and rare during this time- I believe it’s called silence.

I swear, my coffee tastes even better when it is sipped in the stillness of the early morning.

I’m certain that one day, I will miss the noise of my children getting ready for school, arguing with each other, and asking me where their shoes are.  But, for now, I’ll appreciate these silent moments.  They don’t last long, but they are golden.