entertainment, life, news, health

Chris Cornell

Before I begin, please, if you’re feeling suicidal or just need someone to talk to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 in the US.  Here is a list of crisis lines by country.  Or fucking send me a message, my sleep is garbage anyway.

I wanted to take a break from my usual and talk about Chris Cornell, and I’m writing this so that maybe I’ll stop thinking about him.  I’m not writing this to debate or speculate if he intended to commit suicide or if his prescription medication altered his state of mind.  The ultimate fact is that he is gone painfully too soon.

I would never say I was his biggest fan by far, but I enjoyed his work and loved how talented and versatile he was.  His voice resonated with me from my youth to my current old bitterness.  And his passing pains me more than I ever thought it would.  I don’t know if it’s the shock and the suddenness.  I’m being quite selfish here, because the tragedy of a stranger is making me talk about myself, but so be it.  As a person that has fought with depression and suicide there are days where I feel like I’m barely hanging on.  And I’m angry about that because my life is good right now.  So good I want to freeze time.  I want to seal this moment forever because I’m terrified of the future.  I am under a doctor’s care, I take medication, I am not suicidal.  Right now.  That’s the terrifying part–once you’ve been there, you never really leave, at least not for me.

You remember these slides, right?  This is how I feel like my life is.  Maybe I started at the top like everyone else.  In the sun, happy.  But I found myself sliding down into the dark and I try to stop.  You have to use both hands, both feet.  And you get so fucking tired.  So you try to climb back up to the top, where everyone else is, where the sunshine and air is.  If you have people at the top, maybe they can lend a hand.  Maybe medicine will make you strong and you can climb back up.  But over time, you get so tired, and you feel things pulling at you, weighing you down.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get back up there.  I’m not sliding down, but I feel like I’m very consciously holding on.   And some days even with all the help you just get so damn tired and you know it would be so easy to let go and just slide down.  It would be a relief.  Even if the slide had no end or even a horrible end at least you wouldn’t be struggling so hard or hanging on to other people so heavily.  That’s how I feel with depression.  It feels like it’s always looming and it makes me a fraud.  Because I can function and talk and make jokes and take care of my kids and my family and enjoy things and all the while I’m screaming inside because maybe it’s all fake and I’m lying to myself.  Maybe I’ve learned how to put on a pretty good show.

To be clear, I feel firmly held right now, but I’m always aware and always afraid.  Maybe it’s just how my life is and will have to be.

So when I hear about Chris Cornell, who by all accounts should be happy, like I should be happy…how could he slide down?  How the hell can I hold on while someone who outwardly has everything cannot hold himself up or have the strength to hang on to someone else’s hand.  What hope is there for me, when someone like him has lost all?  I used to think that suicide was so selfish and it made me angry.  It is selfish, but the weight that some people have, the demons that pull them down, are just too much.  I feel robbed, as the whole world does, as his family and friends do.  But I’m also selfishly afraid.

That’s really all.  I just wanted to vent.  Here are some videos.

“One” lyrics by Metallica, music by U2  Note:  The lyrics have been slightly altered to fit with the music, so the lyrics below are not exact.  You can hear “One” by Metallica here and “One” by U2 (original music video) here.  Both amazing and haunting songs on their own.  The video for Metallica’s video comes from the book and subsequent movie “Johnny Got His Gun” which is a whole other level of surreal.

I can’t remember anything
Can’t tell if this is true or dream
Deep down inside I feel to scream
This terrible silence stops me

Now that the war is through with me
I’m waking up, I cannot see
That there’s not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me

Back in the womb it’s much too real
In pumps life that I must feel
But can’t look forward to reveal
Look to the time when I’ll live

Fed through the tube that sticks in me
Just like a wartime novelty
Tied to machines that make me be
Cut this life off from me

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me

Now the world is gone, I’m just one
Oh God, help me
Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, help me

Darkness
Imprisoning me
All that I see
Absolute horror
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

Landmine
Has taken my sight
Taken my speech
Taken my hearing
Taken my arms
Taken my legs
Taken my soul
Left me with life in hell

“One” lyrics by U2, for reference.

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say…

One love
One life
When it’s one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it’s…

Too late
Tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
One…

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it’s all I got
We’re one
But we’re not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One…life

One

life

Stuff that Happened – I met a hero!

Okay, so I didn’t meet-meet him, but I did make an awesome discovery that I hope will bring as much joy to someone else as it did for me.  The person I “met” was Dr. Modestino Criscitiello.  He told me his story from World War II that I just had to share with the world.  My adventure started out in a used bookstore called Books by the Pound.  Why yes, they do sell books by the literal weight.  There were scales throughout the store, much like in the produce section of the grocery store.  It has an antiquarian section with some incredibly old books; some from the early 1900’s. I wanted to buy all of them.  BUY ALL THE BOOKS!  But, old books tend to be heavy and hence, more expensive when buying by the pound.  What I ended up finding was a very simple, albeit large, nondescript book.

It was the only book I HAD to have.

When I opened it, it was filled with original photographs and documents.  I didn’t look at it closely, but I really had to have it.  Here is a weird little fact about me:  I’ve always been strangely interested in WWII.  As a young child, I read everything that I could get my hands on, fiction and non-fiction.  I think that as a general rule, 7 year old little girls aren’t super into WWII.  Or at least I never met one.  Regardless of the reason, while I’m terrible at history and dates and such, I am a bit obsessed with it.  So no matter what was in this book, I HAD to have it.

My initial thought was that it was maybe a variety of communication or just a gathered type scrapbook.  When I finally got it home and sat down with it, I was amazed to find that it was the personal account of Dr. Criscitiello’s years of service during the war.  Dr. Modestino Criscitiello was a surgeon that practiced in Pittsfield, MA.  He had what most would consider a comfortable life with his wife and children when World War II erupted.

Page One

I detest war and I abhor violence in any form.  The decision to volunteer my services during World War II came about only after long and agonizing consideration of the following factors:

Contrary For
1. Leaving a comfortable home at the age of 49 and exposure to rugged army life with possibility of loss of life or limb. 1. As a member of Draft Board 123 and later as medical examiner of board I was involved in decisions as to who was to be drafted and sent to war, while I remained home in comfort and safety.
2. Acceptance of army regimentation with loss of personal freedom. 2. Sense of duty to country as a United States citizen.
3. Loss of income from medical practice at peak of my earning capacity. 3. Set up adequate insurance program so that in any event family could live comfortably and without jeopardizing children’s education.
4. Obligation to various community medical and non-medical organizations.
Obligation to my wife, children, and old mother.
4. Paying the United States a debt of gratitude for having afforded my family the opportunity to develop our potential and enjoy a better life.

Looking back, the decision to volunteer was justified.  OUr entire family became an active part of the war effort and thus came face to face with the disruption of home life.  We were all made more aware of the anxieties of war.  Personally, during my three year term of service, I was fortunate to have had an active part.  Among other duties, my assignment as Chief of the Surgical Service of the 117th General Hospital, situated near Bristol, England, brought me to the European theatre of war.  This was a large, 1000  bed hospital usually filled beyond capacity with war casualties presenting cases with severe, multiple injuries.  Though the work was strenuous physically and emotionally the results were gratifying.  Among other accomplishments, the neurosurgical section of our staff made important contributions of the care of nerve injuries and the plastic surgery department made advances in the technic of pedicle grafts.  We also did some pioneer work in angiography and electroencephalography.  Above all, we provided mental and physical comfort to the American soldiers entrusted to our care.  I like to feel that we saved a few lives and helped heal many wounds.  Mission accomplished!  I am thankful that I had the opportunity to serve my adopted country when in need.

The good Doctor.

Okay, how inspiring is this!?  Dr. Criscitiello was (I believe) an Italian immigrant and is listed in U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 along with his wife, Assunta.  Maybe as a child of immigrants, I’ve always had the sense of how important your adopted country is.  This is my home country, but that’s not the point.  Both of my parents worked with the government before they came to the US; my brother served in the National Guard for years.

I…pay my taxes.  I vote.  I know all the words to the songs and pledges and was even a Girl Scout for one year.  I thought about joining but I am not made for the military.  I’m a patriot by not enlisting. Trust me on this one.

All original documents.

Dr. Cristiciello entered into the Army as a Captain and was subsequently promoted twice: to Major and then Lieutenant Colonel.  It’s easy to romanticize war stories because that’s a lot of what movies and TV do.  I want to see it that way, as well, in a sort of M*A*S*H colored glasses way.  I then try to think about the situation in a more realistic and empathetic way–how would I feel if The Mr. (who is now in his 40’s) voluntarily put himself into an ongoing conflict/war?  Leaving me and our children alone?  For three years?  The thought seriously upsets me.  I would be completely against it.  The Mr. is totally against this imaginary scenario, too.

The caption for this was “Home – Minus Dad”

There were So. Many. Pictures.  I wanted to include them all, but no.  Here are some of my favorites:

Front row, center

Second row from front, first person on the left
So many originals with “Restricted” stamped on them. I felt like I was in on some sort of big secret :D

Fau Tau Players Oath
I solemnly swear that I will not bitch, gripe, curse at, or bring false accusation against my fellow players.

If anyone knows if this says Fau Tau or what it means, please let me know.  Tau is Greek, so maybe a fraternity or club of some kind?  No clue.  Still neat.

Original newspaper clippings.

So his son was a doctor that studied at Harvard, his daughter was a nurse that studied at Yale and they were both in the military as well.  The interesting thing is, when researching I found so many instances of “Doctor”.  So many family members, even today!

Click for link!

Once I realized what I had in my hands, I began researching to find his family.  I have no idea how his personal scrapbook ended up in a second hand bookstore in Georgia.  If it was my family member, I would definitely want it back.  I finally got a break through Facebook and connected with a Criscitiello in Texas who is indeed related and is a molecular biologist researching immunity and evolution.    I corresponded with him and have sent him the book.  If I had not found anyone I would have found a museum to donate it to.  It is a really incredible collection of information and should be in the family first and shared with the world second.  If you believe in these kinds of things, maybe it was fate that I found that book?  Maybe it wanted to go home?  Either way, this was a wonderful adventure from start to finish.  I’m glad I got to play a small part.

children, crafty, home, life

Stuff that happened, Part 2

March through today has been pretty much all about Josh.  Good things and bad things and then good things again.  One thing I’ve decided is that I will be blogging less about him because he’s now at the start of that transition into manhood.  I can’t tell you how much I hate that word, manhood.  Not because of the actual word, but because it means my baby is not a baby anymore.  He hasn’t been a baby for a long time.  I rationally know this but he’s my first born and I’m weepy as fuck.  So let’s get on with it then.

All of these hyper sensitive emotions are because my baby son just turned 10 years old.  Double digits.  One decade.  One year closer to being out of the nest.  This should be a happy thing!  I am happy and blessed to have a perfectly healthy 10 year old son!  I am a total ass for being weepy about this and yet, here we are.

I’m super into Ansatsu Kyōshitsu and just binge read the whole series.

The birthday was fun for him but also fun for me to plan and execute.  He made this year a hard theme for me:  Blizzard Entertainment.  Not just one game, but all the games.

Challenge accepted.

First, the quests:

Time to go on an adventure!

Before we go any further, you can download the “LifeCraft” font right here.  I want to use it for everything, but oh well.  He had 10 quests with a total of 3,650 experience points.  One for each day of his life.  I’m not crying.  Not at all.

Magnus Finnegan Chesterfield also turned 2 years old this year. 15.1 lbs.

Since there are no party supplies actually licensed by Blizzard for any of their games I had to make do with my Macgyver-like skills.  Okay, maybe not Macgyver, but solidly mediocre art skills:

Overwatch and Hearthstone painted wrapping paper. Not pictured: Starcraft, WoW, D3, HotS.
Hearth Stones, Apexis Crystals, various mis-colored potions.
My crowning achievement!

Seriously, though, that fucking cake.  I had to get two 10″ pans which was basically two boxed cake mixes (I’m not a from scratch baker, sue me).  The top is actual icing from a company called Edible Prints on Cake.  It’s literally not literally magic.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.

For posterity, here is my 10 year old baby son opening his presents.  Wearing the pajama pants that he wanted his mom to make him.  Because one day he won’t want handmade things from his mom.  Who won’t want family parties anymore one day.  Who won’t want Magic cards and Attack on Titan swords or Star Wars light sabers.

*sigh*

The next big Josh thing to happen was that he quit his Tae Kwon Do school.  He quit about a week before he was to test from 2nd level brown to red belt.  It was only late summer when he joined the newly formed Black Belt Club and we paid out a ton of money for a new uniform, new gear, and a new higher monthly tuition.  His new instructor left (was practically forced out) and a new-new instructor was somehow amazingly ready to go within two weeks.  How convenient.

This entire year so far has been trying to adjust to the new teacher and his new methods but frankly, it just wasn’t going to happen.  There was absolutely no discipline in the class so the other kids literally –yes, literally– would run around and yell and scream and do whatever the hell they wanted to.  No reprimands from the teacher, nothing.  We went to the coordinator and discussed the situation and she told me “I’ve never seen him teach” so she’d have to look into it.

What.

Who hires someone that you’ve never seen teach?  We even showed her video of the stuff that Josh has to put up with to which she responded ‘unacceptable’.

Well no shit, Sherlock

Now, I don’t want to project my emotions or mental lunacy onto my children, but I can honestly say he was becoming depressed over this whole thing.  The boy who used to practice every day and was always so eager to go to class and learn was gone.  He wouldn’t eat, he was moodier than usual, withdrawn, and most importantly, he didn’t want to go anymore.  A total 180°.  He would gladly not go which used to be the ultimate punishment.  I won’t say much more because we’re still dealing with the whole thing but we made it very clear that he was quitting the school, not the sport.  The day we said “if you want to quit, you can quit”, he made a face akin to hearing that he was going to Disney.

We toured a few other schools but I think we’ve found a place that he will fare better at–it’s literally everything we wanted and it’s completely amazeballs.  The Grandmaster used to train the South Korean military, so there’s that.  It may be a couple of months before he can even start but he actually said he didn’t mind since he knew he was going to a much better school.  Could he be any more wonderful?

MY BABY

 

children, life

Stuff that Happened, Part 1

February was totally stupid.  The Mr. had a birthday that I can honestly say I can’t remember much of.  The day before his birthday was quite memorable, though. The kids and I got into a car accident. Here’s the best part:  everything has only been resolved and settled as of this week.  Literally 10 weeks to the day.  Ten. Fucking. Weeks.

A woman backed her car into me in a parking lot and tried to say that I hit her because she “has a backup cam so it couldn’t have been her fault”.  Yeah, okay.  She immediately called the police and wouldn’t say a word to me, which isn’t a bad thing.  Most insurance people tell you not to talk to anyone.  She hit on the passenger side where Josh sits so he took the brunt of the collision.

Speaking of collision, I forgot that I haven’t received the check for the damages for his physical injuries so FUCK I have to call Allstate again tomorrow.  *angrily scribbles on to do list*

ANYWAY, here’s the aftermath:

Position of our vehicles in the parking lot.

She pulled out so fast that I didn’t have time to react.   She hit square into the rear passenger door and the rear passenger quarter panel.

Photo of the front of my car.

She fought hard to say that I hit her, but when the police came, he saw exactly what I saw–no damage to the front of my car.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a car of the future so I can’t turn my wheels 90 degrees and slam into someone sideways.  The police report can’t officially declare who is at fault because it’s private property but the explanation was “car pulled out of parking spot and struck driver’s vehicle” so that’s pretty much saying who was at fault.

My poor car.
Angled view of the damage.

This picture was to show that the doors no longer lined up evenly and when I drove, I could hear the wind coming in as if the door was not fully closed.  I didn’t realize it until it rained but water leaked in everywhere on that side so the door was definitely not sealing correctly.  I had to have Josh sit in the front seat which as all overprotective parents know is not where young children should sit!  We did take Josh to the urgent care because his elbow was hurting; thankfully he was fine–just needed ibuprofen and rest.

Crack is whack

My car is old; 2005 and was the very first car I bought by myself (like an adult!) and it was new.  It’s been my reliable workhorse forever, but the bad part about that is they no longer make this vehicle.  Saturn stopped production and when I need parts, I have to get them used or pay an exorbitant amount of money.  So Allstate, the other lady’s insurance, was of course trying to do everything as cheaply as possible.  Their estimate was literally $1,000+ less than my repair guy’s estimate.  When I had my car assessed by Allstate, the guy was super nice and explained everything very clearly, and how if there was more internal damage, the shop would have to contact Allstate and have them pay for it.  He even cleaned off a big paint streak that I got on my car before the accident but that is another story entirely.  They gave me cash for their estimate and I was on my way.

Seriously.

Allstate provided a rental, but the main adjuster was such a fucking piece of shit to me every step of the way and I am still not done with her.  They don’t issue rentals mid week; usually only on Monday or Tuesday because god forbid I use the cheap rental over the weekend.  I had to schedule my car repair to start on a Monday so I could get the rental and since I know this person was either inexplicably vengeful or simply utterly inept at their job, I called Allstate to double check and make sure I was able to get the confirmation code for the rental.

Nope.  No rental for me!  I spent half of my drive to the repair shop trying to get this taken care of so I wouldn’t be stranded with the kids.  I got it worked out, buthe original time frame for the rental was 3 days.

It took 3 weeks to get my car back from the repair shop.  3 WEEKS HOLY BALLS.

Had a very cute rental, though. Cute and so tiny.

It wasn’t the repair guy’s fault.  Allstate refused the repairs over and over and over and even sent their own inspector out again.  He was there for 5 minutes and said APPROVED.  There were multiple incidents of this.  My rental was cancelled by Allstate on April 20…but they didn’t tell me or Enterprise about it.  Enterprise found out on the 24th and they contacted me.  So I had to go back and forth and back and forth with Allstate again.  I ended up having to pay $124 out of pocket for the rental which Enterprise quickly and courteously refunded.  I’m so impressed with their service I’m going to write a letter to whoever needs to get it.  They were fantastic.

So basically this has been an entirely shit process and I would advise anyone to stay the hell away from Allstate as an insurance provider.   I can’t believe this stupid thing still isn’t over.

children, health, home, life, work

It’s May…?

Well, balls.  So much for keeping up with my life.  EVERYTHING happened since I last blogged.  EVERYTHING.

I have been ridiculously busy and for the most part, it’s been a good busy.  Here is a short run down:

  • Josh’s birthday
  • multiple naps
  • car accident
  • ChÜberlist update
  • presents for ME
  • new job
  • home remodel
  • quit class
  • video games
  • new website
  • old pains are new again

So. Many. Things.  I *will* update.  I know you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seat for all of my exciting updates.  Second only to watching paint dry or grass grow (they tied for first place).

Soon. Sooooooon.
health, home, life

ChÜberlist 2017 UPDATE!

So let’s find out if February was a failure or a success in terms of ChÜberlist completions. What was the list again?

Self
1. Lose 10% of my current total body weight. – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I am not even thinking about this. It’s fucking March already, though, so I should do something. OH—I am drinking more water and am basically caffeine free so that’s a pretty big deal. I drink Caffeine Free Diet Coke because I guess this is my version of vaping. Also, I’m sure the sodium has some kind of hook on me, too, but all the water drinking is good.
2. Practice better drug adherence. – I have been better; I think I’ve only maybe missed doses once a week or so which is an incredible improvement.
3. Get a haircut that I can maintain. – Still ponytailing it around. Maybe next month…
4. Sleep like a normal human being. – LOL, yeah, NO
5. Be conscious about my appearance. – I bought a new pair of jeans that isn’t tattered at the cuffs or crotch Or is 10 years old. What sucks though, is that they are HUGE on me and the next size down is a gut sucker. So I have to get a belt now?

Home
1. I need a meal plan. – So I’ve had this dry erase calendar in my kitchen for years and I am using to plan meals. Unfortunately, I only used it for one week (but I do have a breakfast list on there which we are sticking to)

So sad -__-

2. I need a chore schedule. – Okay, I don’t have a schedule, but I have been doing things to try and keep myself more on task. Por ejemplo: I have a daily set of Corelle dishes but also mixed pieces that we’ve kept over the years. All of those dinner plates and dessert plates have been washed, plastic wrapped and put away so that I have to do dishes more regularly. It also forces me to hand wash things when necessary instead of just leaving it for next time.

See? Ducks in a row and wrapped up in plastic.

3. Major Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter cleaning. – I’ve been throwing out a ton of stuff. I cleaned out the kitchen desktop and cabinet; trashed all the mismatched glasses and mugs that haven’t been used for 15 years. This wasn’t even enough to donate—have you ever been in a thrift store? They have enough fucking Christmas mugs.
4. Get the ice maker fixed. – nay
5. Stop procrastinating on all of the minor repairs and projects. Here is a preliminary list of things that need to get done:
– mount and display Josh’s Tae Kwon Do belts and certificates
– hang blinds and curtains in kitchen
– regroup and hang family pictures
– hang up artwork that I bought 10 years ago OR donate it
– replace towel bars in kids’ bathroom and half bath
– repaint any rooms that need to be repainted (It’s been a long time and the kids’ rooms especially need paint in my opinion.)
Of course I did something not on this list but it still counts: I replaced the fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen over the desk. That was a pain in the ass because I never have the right tools, this house is 30 years old with 30 year old “fixes” and it’s hard to see with the power off. However, it works, I didn’t burn the house down and I didn’t electrocute myself.

It’s slimmer than the old one; I should paint…eventually.

Kids
1. Enforce a consistent school, practice, wake up and bedtime routine. – This worked for about two weeks. I need to get back on it.
2. School at the library or park once a week. – We’ve been pretty consistent about this one. I think we’ve maybe missed once?
3. Have lesson plans one month in advance. –I’m almost done with February! Oh wait, that’s not right.
4. Be more regimented on practice for extra curricular activities. – UGH
5. Help the kids stay on task with cleaning their rooms. – This is actually going pretty well. Their rooms are always going to be messy because they’re kids (Robin’s more than Josh’s) but they stay on task better. Little habits, little habits.

Crafty
No need to list; I’ve done absolutely nothing.

Miscellaneous
1. Revamp the fish tanks. – I’ve started!
2. Wash my car once a month (inside and out) – I half assed it, but I did clean out some stuff.

So I have been doing things to try to improve my life. I think march will be better for no reason other than to be hopeful. A lot of things got in the way this past month like meetings with teachers, car accident, the Mr’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. Months with holidays always throw the proverbial wrench in your schedule.

Overall, I’m not disappointed at my progress. I need to speed it up, but this isn’t a bad start out of the gate.

home, life

Revitalized

The past 9 months or so has been difficult for me and my fish tanks.  The carpel tunnel surgeries put a damper on how much I could work on my tanks.  Between the complete immobilization to the wound healing to working up my grip strength up to an acceptable level, I was letting everything pretty much go.  I was dealing with what is technically termed a funk.  Basically a low period in my depression that comes regardless of my medication.  Maybe it was brought on by the surgeries or maybe there was no reason at all, but I found my tanks neglected more and more each day, the only attention I gave them was to fill up the evaporated water because it was too noisy.  Actual water changes were few and far between.

I didn’t lose any fish but my plants took a beating.  I am less stocked than I’d like though; after all of the gourami issues I haven’t bought any new fish, mostly because I was waiting to be fully invested again.

I decided to buy the famous Finnex Planted+ 24/7 which I have been wanting forever.  That, along with new some new plants has really made me happy with the whole look again.  I am also dosing fertilizer again, a habit that gave up as my interest started to wane.

Full frontal!
I just really love this shot of the driftwood and the red sword plant in the foreground.
Giant/Tall hairgrass. Finally. There is actually a ton but the driftwood is blocking some of the view. I ordered 5 plants and easily got double that based on their root systems.
Limnophila aromatica-one of my favorites
Dad teaching his son how to snail. (Malaysian Trumpet Snail)
Dad teaching his son how to snail. (Malaysian Trumpet Snail)

For anyone who cares, here is my plant list:

Amazon Sword, Echinodorus bleheri and the Ozelot and red flame variation (Echinodorus ‘Ozelot’, Echinodorus ” Red Flame”)
Blyxa japonica
Limnophila aromatica
Water wisteria, Hygrophila difformis
Aponogeton boivinianus, Aponogeton crispus, Aponogeton ulvaceus, Aponogeton madagascarensis
Java Fern Windelov, Microsorum pteropus var windelov
Tiger lotus, red and green, Nymphaea lotus ‘Zenkeri’
Dwarf aquarium lily, Nymphaea stellata
banana plant, Nymphoides aquatica
glosso, Glossostigma elantoides
dwarf sagitaria, Sagitaria subulata dwarf
Purple Mudwort, Limnophila heterophylla
Tall hairgrass, Eleocharis montevidensis
water sprite, Ceratopteris thalictroides
various anubias: Anubias barteri, Anubias barteri nana, Anubias nana petite
possibly a stray stem of penny or money wort but I’m unsure.

Stock:

black kuhli loach
otocinclus
swordtail
neon tetra
peppered corydoras
glowlight tetra
black racer nerite snail
bumble bee nerite snail
copious amounts of malaysian trumpet snails

I’m nice and happy with my work at the moment.  The kids’ tank is getting back on track, too.  My Starry Night tank is out of commission at the moment but I’m trying to decide whether I want to get a breeder betta (not from a pet store) or if I want to go in the opposite direction and get a gold fish.  Or maybe a species only tank like for peacock gudgeons or microfish like daisy rice fish.

I’m a nerd.

life

Coach

I feel really stupid.

I found out tonight about the death of a teacher I had in high school.  I don’t know why I’m so upset about it but I am.  I haven’t seen this man in 20 years and haven’t thought about him much since graduation.

I feel like I don’t have the right to feel sad about this.  He taught me how to drive.  He encouraged me to follow my dreams of studying medicine (sorry about that).  He genuinely liked me for me, not because he taught my siblings.  He appreciated my jokes.

Like a lot of smaller towns, he was a coach and a teacher. He told me about his heart surgery when I was studying anatomy.  He made fun of me when I hit a curb in the driver’s ed car.  He made fun of me for getting a speeding ticket in one of the most well known speed traps ever.  He was always nice to me and smiled a lot, but I’ve seen him angry too, and frankly it was awesome because he never got angry without a reason.

His son died the year after I graduated.  I remember it as a blip, and remembered thinking how sad it was but that’s all.  Self centered 18 year olds don’t make for very compassionate people.  I didn’t know his son, but I knew of him.  A couple of years older, I think.  I mean, everyone knew everyone in a way.  It was a small town.  We all went to the same school, the same grocery stores, the same Wal-Mart, all that.

Maybe it’s nostalgia fueling that sadness, but honestly, I think I’m also shocked at how positively he influenced my life.  Not by anything huge and grandiose, but just by being a great person.  He will be terribly missed.

HHS
HHS
children, life

Field Trip!

This week the kiddos and I decided to go on a field trip to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and it was completely amazeballs.

From the parking lot.
From the parking lot.

I was looking for things in the area to do with the kids that wasn’t crazy expensive -and- was somewhat educational.  When I came across information of the mandir, I couldn’t pass it up.

I don’t subscribe to any specific religion and I’m not converting to Hinduism anytime soon.  What I know about Hinduism comes from mythology and the only Hindu that I know, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

Classic.
I need the Kwik-E-Mart.

The campus is huge, gated, meticulous and incredibly beautiful.  We stayed outside looking around at every little detail before going inside to attend the midday Rajbhog Arti ceremony.  We were in the way back as to not get in the way of people praying.   The detail in the hand cut marble, inside and outside, is really awesome.  The kids were losing their minds at how big it was and how it was like a castle.

I would have called it a palace, but whatever.
I would have called it a palace, but whatever.
Artsy shot of the architecture.
Artsy shot of the architecture.
ELEPHANTS!
ELEPHANTS!
Reflecting over the reflecting pool.
Reflecting over the reflecting pool.
This is the closest picture I could get of the Mandir. No photos after that point.
This is the closest picture I could get of the Mandir. No photos after that point.

Now, while I know very little about Hinduism, I do know to be respectful and follow the posted rules.  One of the rules that stood out was the restriction on photography/filming inside and outside of the mandir.  I even emailed to inquire if we could bring sketchbooks (we could) because I didn’t want to be an asshole.

One of the best parts of our tour was a woman visiting the shrine.  She was blatantly shooting video on her phone which really aggravated me.  When the staff/volunteers began to approach her, she quickly put her phone away and made the “it’s okay” gesture at the men.  They made her delete the photos and videos.

Best. Day. Ever.
Best. Day. Ever.

We had a great time, though to no one’s surprise the kids were not fans of Indian food.  Too spicy or too bean-y or just too out of their comfort zone.  I actually wasn’t much of a fan either, but maybe it was simply because it was prepared in a snack bar/cafe instead of a restaurant…which really doesn’t make sense because the snack bar/cafe food is usually super good in these out of the way places.  No matter, a good time was had by all.

Did I mention I'm a child?  Yeah, every time I say the word, this pops into my head.
Did I mention I’m a child? Yeah, every time I say the word, this pops into my head.
children, crafty, health, home, life

ChÜberlist 2017 – The Year of the Slug

EDIT:  OH SHIT IT’S PAST MIDNIGHT AND NOW IT’S FEBRUARY OH NO!

It’s still January!  I’m not that late!

 ChÜberlist 2017 – The Year of the Slug has finally arrived!
ChÜberlist 2017 – The Year of the Slug has finally arrived!

Here is my current list conveniently sorted in pseudo categories.  As always, I’ll probably add more to the list just so I can mark it off my list because I like meaningless achievements.

I really need these. Click the picture to buy me the pack!
I really need these. Click the picture to buy me the pack!

One thing I didn’t put on my list this year:  Quit smoking.  I have always had that on my list as a gimme since I don’t smoke, but I’m trying to be an adult so I decided against it.

donglover
donglover

Self
1. Lose 10% of my current total body weight.  Unfortunately, NASA scientists are all busy at the moment so I can’t post any numbers right now.

They were busy with Barney's bar tab.
They were busy with Barney’s bar tab.

2. Practice better drug adherence. I’m shit at taking medicine at the right time…and I’m terribly inconsistent. So basically, I am a child and need to be reminded about everything, every day, forever.
3. Get a haircut that I can maintain. I’m going to be 38 fucking years old this year. I should grow beyond the ponytail. Basically, I need to stop being lazy about my hair. For the record, I’m starting to go gray and I don’t give a shit about dyeing it.
4. Sleep like a normal human being. “OH I’M SO TIRED” Maybe if I wasn’t up until 3 AM every night and up in the actual morning hours I wouldn’t be so fucking tired all the time. As noted in #2 above, I am a child and need a bedtime and bedtime routine. I need to learn how to be an adult.
5. Be conscious about my appearance. I know this is a newsflash, but I am not a big fan of myself, in literally any way you can think of. Since I think so little of myself, I have basically gotten to the point in my life that I only care about what I’m wearing or what I look like so I don’t embarrass my family. When I’m out alone, I am an even bigger mess than usual.

Accurate.
Accurate.

Home
1. I need a meal plan. Other than texting the Mr. at 6:30 with the usual “what for dinner?” Frozen breakfast is the first plan because that’s easy. Breakfast sandwiches and burritos, muffins, smoothie mixes. Then I’ll work my way up to having prepared food. I don’t know when I stopped really preparing meals to freeze. I did totally do it once, though now it had become more of a myth than anything.
2. I need a chore schedule. See #2 of Self. I am a child and need to be reminded about everything, every day, forever. Everything in my house is at some stage between cluttered and disgusting. My ultimate goal is to have a home that someone could stop by unexpectedly and I wouldn’t force them to stay outside.

How many decades will this strike last?
Strike also applies to brownies, domovois, heinzelmännchen

3. Major Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter cleaning. I need to declutter like no one’s business. I think if I haven’t used it in 10 years, I probably don’t need it. A handwriting worksheet from when Josh was 3 is probably also unnecessary to retain for his records.
4. Get the ice maker fixed. You’d think a simple task like calling a repair man wouldn’t take multiple years to do, but here we are.  It gets its own number because it’s been literally years.  I need to do this.  Eventually.
5. Stop procrastinating on all of the minor repairs and projects. Here is a preliminary list of things that need to get done:
– mount and display Josh’s Tae Kwon Do belts and certificates
– hang blinds and curtains in kitchen
– regroup and hang family pictures
– hang up artwork that I bought 10 years ago OR donate it
– replace towel bars in kids’ bathroom and half bath
– repaint any rooms that need to be repainted (It’s been a long time and the kids’ rooms especially need paint in my opinion.)

Kids
1. Enforce a consistent school, practice, wake up and bedtime routine. Which mostly means I need to have a routine. I’m the worst.

I have an alarm clock that can go off at two different times. I am slowly learning how to not sleep through both.
I have an alarm clock that can go off at two different times. I am slowly learning how to not sleep through both.

2. School at the library or park once a week. They need to learn to work with distractions and we are too cooped up in the house anyway.
3. Have lesson plans one month in advance. I can always improvise, but not every day.
4. Be more regimented on practice for extra curricular activities. I’m the worst, the WORST at practicing violin. And Tae Kwon Do kicks.
5. Help the kids stay on task with cleaning their rooms. Did I mention I’m the worst at everything?

Crafty
1. Finish hand quilting that giant king sized quilt.
2. Finish water color painting.
3. Sketchbook every day. Eventually.
4. Teach Robin to sew and to knit (those were her resolutions, so now they’re mine as well)
5. Knit at least 2 pair of socks.
6. Blog at least once a week.

Quantity over quality is easy since the quality has been at zero since 2006
Quantity over quality is easy since the quality has been at zero since 2006

Miscellaneous
1. Revamp the fish tanks.
2. Wash my car once a month (inside and out)

Whoooooo! So, 23 whole resolutions. To be fair, that’s a lot if I’m actually doing this. There are other personal goals I have this year but I’m not interested in airing all my dirty laundry to the world. Just the grossest pieces, I guess. I’m glad that I’m reviving the ChÜberlist; I’d like to believe that it means that I’m still alive and motivated on improving myself, even if it’s at a slug’s pace.

Get it? GET IT? GEDITGEDITGEDIT?!
Get it? GET IT? GEDITGEDITGEDIT