Monday, December 31, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 9

15 Day blogger Challenge

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Getting to Know the Blogger

This challenge is open to any and everyone who wants to get to know each other a little better in the blogosphere. I encourage you all to make this challenge your own. There is no special format to follow or rules on posting. Do your challenge in 1 day by answering all the questions at once or do it in 90 days. Just have fun!  
Challenge Questions:
9. What are your goals? What are your hobbies?

Goals and Hobbies

I have very few goals and a lot of hobbies. I used to be full of goals for my future. Now, whether it is age or just reality setting in, my goals seem to be fewer and more realistic. I wanted to help children, particularly those with disabilities. I went to school to be a special education teacher in high school math and English. The low pay rate for teachers in Texas ($27,000/year) has helped me realize that I would never be able to support my family and pay my student loans at the same time. My student loans are over $700/month. This would only leave me with $18,600/year to support my family of four on. This is far below the poverty level in the United States. I have been looking more out of my degree for employment, but I am not qualified for much. I realize now that school was just a waste of time and money. The job market is so bad here, that the only thing available is going back to work with Child Protective Services. However, that job almost ripped my family apart. My new goal is to get whatever job I can aside from CPS. I do think about continuing my education in the hopes of being able to find adequate employment, but I am too afraid it too will be a waste of time and money like my Bachelor's degree was. I know that I would be a damn good autism specialists, and that is really what I want to do. I'm just unsure that's a goal I should shooting for at my age.

Now, my hobbies, as I said, are many. I love to read, and I do not limit myself to just reading for pleasure. I also love to read to learn. If I do not understand something, I will research it in order to learn more about it. I particularly love to read about neurobiological disorders, mental health issues, and mental disabilities. My original major was psychology. My favorite pleasure genre is horror, and I sway more toward zombie stories than any others. I changed my major when I could not agree with my professor about alcoholism and drug addiction, but that, my dears, is another story. I love to write. Though I seldom write something note worthy, writing is my vent. I keep a dream journal, write poetry, and write prose. I guess I am decent, but it's nothing to brag about. I love art and have always been able to draw and paint. I enjoy photography and had, at one time, endeavored to become a professional photographer and have a gallery of my own some day. Now, I am more realistic and just take pictures of whatever. I do crafts and scrap booking. I am pretty decent at anything artistic I set my mind to, but nothing is extraordinary. I love to do math for fun. Yes, you read right. I do trigonometry for fun. I break out my college calculus, algebra, and trigonometry text books when I get bored and keep my math skills up. For what? I don't know. I also love to play Sudoku. I did work as a computer programmer in my past, and I love working with computers. I really should have gone into that vocation, but you know what they say about hind sight. Had I known that I would have so much difficulty finding work, I would have swayed more toward computers. I was just one of those people that didn't want to make my hobby my career. If only...

"People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute."

~ Rebecca West

Sunday, December 30, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 8

15 Day blogger Challenge

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Getting to Know the Blogger

This challenge is open to any and everyone who wants to get to know each other a little better in the blogosphere. I encourage you all to make this challenge your own. There is no special format to follow or rules on posting. Do your challenge in 1 day by answering all the questions at once or do it in 90 days. Just have fun!

Challenge Questions:

8. Tell us a bit about your family!

My Family

What is there to tell about my family that you have not already heard? My family is the reason that I get up in the morning. They are my best friends, and the reason for living. It is through my children that my legacy will survive. My husband is my best friend. I have magnificent grandparents and parents. I have wonderful siblings and awesome cousins. My nieces and nephews are all good kids and my great nephews are the cutest little ones.

I have already filled you in on all of that, so I'll go another route. I guess I am what you could call a mutt. I know, it's kind of a crude way to explain to my ancestry. My maiden name is McGhee, so of course, there is some Celt in there. The Butler's and Bartley's were also Celtic. I have a little Creole in me. I guess that's where I get my spicy attitude. I am also Creek, Blackfoot, and Cherokee, all Native American tribes.

Though I have spent my life fighting it, I might as well admit that I am a southern girl all the way, just with a rock and roll edge. I was born and raised in Texas, but I am not what most people think about Texas. I don't wear cowboy boots, and I don't ride horses. I am not saying I never have before because I have. I did wear my share of cowboy boots through my high school years, but I traded them in for combat boots my senior year. I did have a horse, but that didn't make me a cowgirl. I am a plain old southern belle raised by a southern belle raised by a southern belle. The women in my family are kind, compassionate, and caring, but we are all tough.

The men in my family work hard to support their families, and they are a bit on the wild side. I guess you could say they are all a bit redneck in the truest sense of the word. Generation after generation has been raised in poverty, but not due to choice. It is a tough cycle to break, and unfortunately, I have not been able to break it either. All of the people in my family work very hard and get paid very little. Today, almost every person in my family is a civil servant. I come from a long line of pastors, ministers, nurses, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, soldiers, and teachers. The generations before these spent their lives working the land, making others wealthy off of their own blood sweat and tears.

There's a prostitute and a murderer back further. The prostitute did what she could to support her child after her husband died. Women did not inherit property, so the loss of her husband meant the loss of her home and all of her possessions. Also, during the time, Native Americans had not yet been recognized as being people by the United States government. Sometimes, a person has to do whatever they can to support their children. The murderer was a Confederate soldier, who believed the Civil War never ended. There were many soldiers during the Civil War that I am descended from, and each of them fought on the Confederate side. That must be where my rebel side has come from.

Going even further back, my Native ancestors were on the Trail of Tears, and I was raised on stories of heartbreak and loss, stories of mothers longing for their children, and children ripped from the arms of their mothers, their cultures erased. From across the Atlantic, my Celtic ancestors were driven from their homes by Cromwell, and they went into hiding in the New World. Legend has that back even further, we were descended from the first king of Ireland. My Scottish ancestors were highlanders, The Children of the Mist. None of us are land owners; and if we had been, it has been long ago taken from us. Regardless, we all dream of owning a piece to pass on to our children.

“I didn’t notice I was a woman. I regard myself as the Prime Minister.”

~ Margaret Thatcher

Saturday, December 29, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 7

15 Day blogger Challenge

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Getting to Know the Blogger

This challenge is open to any and everyone who wants to get to know each other a little better in the blogosphere. I encourage you all to make this challenge your own. There is no special format to follow or rules on posting. Do your challenge in 1 day by answering all the questions at once or do it in 90 days. Just have fun!

Challenge Questions:

Has your life gone the way you expected it?

Life Is Interesting

I can honestly say nothing in my life has gone the way I expected it to.

I never expected to be the mother of two wonderful and interesting young men. The doctor had told me that I could never be a mother because I could never conceive a child. However, two years in a row, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on November 22. I think, often, that I should send a long letter and photographs to the gynecologist that gave me the most crushing news I had ever gotten in my life.

I never expected that once I had children, they would be the most kind, compassionate, and considerate young men that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Though we butt heads often, I can honestly say that I have very good kids. They do well in school, and they are very responsible. They both think about other people and often advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

I never expected that I would be married to such a wonderful man. My husband has been my best friend and confidant throughout the last eighteen years. We have had some tough times, but that is just being married. There has never been a time in the last eighteen years that I have not been totally in love with DJ. Even when times were the most bleak, my love for him consumed my heart. He is the one person that knows me the most. He has lived with me longer than any other person in my life, including my parents and siblings.

Other than with my family, I never expected to be so ordinary. I've never been beautiful, but I was kind of pretty. I've never been a genius, but I am intelligent. I never expected to not be able to succeed in any of my carrer endeavors. Though I had shot for the moon, I have only been middle management material. I thought I would bee a successful writer, but my words always fall short. I thought I would be a successful teacher, but I have never been able to afford to get there. I wanted to be a great student, but I have only been a pretty good one. What has worked out for me is being a mom, though I am like many mothers. I have been a good wife, but no different from other wives. As long as my family loves me, that's all that matters to me.

"No trumpets sound when the important decisions in our lives are made. Destiny is made known silently."

~ Agnes DeMille

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Don't compromise yourself; you are all you got."

~ Janis Joplin

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"There is a period of life where we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside."

~ Pearl Bailey

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do."

~ Willa Cather

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"There are as many ways to live and grow as there are people." 

~ Evelyn Mandel

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Surviving meant being born over and over."

~ Erica Jong

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"One cannot have wisdom without living life." 

~ Dorothy McCall

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"It's more important what's in a woman's face than what's on it."

~ Claudette Colbert

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy In The U.S.

My mind was still reeling from the local news reports Friday  morning. On Thursday morning, local business man drew a gun on police officers that resulted in his death. I responded by saying, "This can't be happening here. Not in this town. You hear about this kind of thing happening in larger cities, but not here." The more I thought about it, I realized that it does happen here; and we have been directly affected by it.

Several years back, a gang war erupted in our small city. A young mentally disabled child was killed by gunfire, and the war grew out of hand. My husband and I were shopping with the children in the local mall when the battle came to its peak. There was fighting, and guns and knives were being waved around as we tried to protect our boys. The stores closed their doors locking us amidst the violent altercation. All my husband and I could do to protect our boys was back them into a corner and shield them with our bodies. Officers soon got the skirmish under control, and we were directed out of the mall. I never realized until now, that it was a good two years before I would walk through those mall doors once again.

Though it was a horrifying experience, I never thought that I would hear of a person shooting at police officers in my town. But, it did happen, and the result was the loss of the life to the local business man along with the discovery of 131 firearms and 63,000 rounds of ammunition. The gunman's family members are in mourning, and the officer who had been left with little choice but to fire back is undergoing the required treatment for officers that take a life. Two families are in turmoil because of this needless altercation.

My mind was still reeling about the battle that ensued on the other side of the freeway from my home. I thought of how lucky we are to be safe from gun violence when the news broke about Newtown, Connecticut. I cannot begin to imagine how the parents must feel. As I watched the news in terror, tears flowed freely from my eyes. Those poor innocent babies, teachers, and faculty ~ Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, and Allison N. Wyatt.

Today, the news is still engrossed with coverage for the horrifying massacre. My heart aches for the family and friends of the children and faculty of the small school, as it aches for the family and friends of the gunman. We could never understand what drove him to draw one of his four guns on the students and teachers ending their lives. What traumatic event did this young man undergo to make him feel the need to take the lives of others? It was recently released he was the victim of bullying at a school he attended. Could this be the reason for his mental anguish?

I am further horrified at the probable repercussions toward children and adults with autism due to guessing game the media is irresponsibly playing about the possible mental health issues the gunman may or may not have had. I have extensively researched, bipolar disorder, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and Reactive Attachment Disorders (RAD) both in University and through my employment as a Child Protective Services Investigator. Each of these four disorders are often misdiagnosed, meaning a person with these disorders exhibit traits with another one of these disorders. I find it hard to believe that this man had an ASD, as children with an ASD are less likely to be violent toward other people. For a matter of fact, most people with an ASD are likely to be law abiding citizens and have a need to follow laws and rules.

If people with autism do exhibit violent tendencies, it is more likely to be in the form of a self-injurious behavior or an INSTANTANEOUS outburst due to SUDDEN frustration and stress. They are not likely to plan out a violent event. The truth is, no one is certain whether this man had any of these disorders because diagnoses can be incorrect; but it is more likely that it would have been a disorder that a symptom is a risk taking behavior such as ADHD, RAD, or bipolar disorder. I want to make it quite clear that I am not saying all people with these disorders are dangerous. Anyone, even people with no history of mental illness or mental health issues, can snap, just as they all can be perfectly fine.

My fears are founded as my son with autism has worked so hard throughout his life to be accepted, and now, we fear that people are going to treat him like there is something wrong with him because of the media's quick response to put the blame off on autism. Just to think that all of these 17 years of hard work for my son could be all taken away because of one man's actions and the media's misrepresentation of autism breaks my heart.

Regardless, it is clear that something is very wrong with this country. While I was learning of our local gunfire incident, I also learned of the mall shooting in Oregon, where Cindy Ann Yuille and Steven Forsyth lost their lives. Then, of course there is the Newton incident on Friday. Saturday, California was rocked by the gunfire at an open air mall where twenty shots were fired in the air luckily not hitting anyone. Sunday night, two police officers, Corporal David Gogian and Jeff Atherly, were shot in the head and killed by a gunman in the parking lot of a grocery store in Kansas. This shooter has lost his life in another standoff with police officers in Topeka, Kansas. In November, a thirteen year old girl, Lourdes Guzman, was shot and killed in front of her seven year old sister on a private school bus in Florida.

We, as a country, still have not healed from the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin where Bhai Seeta Singh, Bhai Parkash Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Subegh Singh, and Parmjit Kaur Toor lost their lives. We still have not healed from the Aurora theater shooting where Jonathon Blunk, Alexander "AJ" Boik, Jessie Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Matt McQuinn, Micayla Medek, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Alex Sullivan, Alexander Teves, Rebecca Wingo, and the unborn child of Ashley Moser lost their lives, as well as the numerous people injured (Petra Anderson, Adan Avila, Brandon Axelrod, Tony Billipando, Christina Blanche, Maria Carbonell, Alejandra Cardona-Lamas, Louis Duran, Craig Enlund, Alex Expinoza, Jacqueline Fry, Yousef Gharbi, Zachary Golditch, Munirah Gravelly, Eugene Han, Jay Jenkins, Bonnie Kate, Jasmine Kennedy, Marcus Kizzar, Patricia Legaretta, Brenton Lowak, Ryan Lumba, Caleb Medley, Ashley Moser, Stephen Moton, Joshua Nowlan, Pierce O'Farrill, Prodeo Patria, Rita Paulina, Christopher Rapoza, Carli Richards, Dion Roseborough, Carey Rottman, Lucas Smith, Heather Snyder, Ferrah Soudana, Catherine Streib, Jamison Toews, Denise Traynom-Axelrod, Marcus Weaver, Michael White, David Williams, Allie Young, Jansen Young, Samantha Yowler, Gage Hankins, Mckayla Hicks, Stephen Barton, Nickelas Gallup, Evan Farris, Jennifer Avila, Jarrell Brooks, Amanda Hernandez-Memije, Kelly Lewis, Bonnie Pourcian, Anggiat Mora, Ethan Rohrs, and Nathan Juranek).

These are only a few of the violent shootings that have rocked our country and ripped at the hearts of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends country wide. I have no answers as to what should be done. I have no clue what motivates people to take the lives of innocent people. I do know that all of the people who have fell victim to such violence need to be remembered because once we realize that this could have been us, and it could be our families suffering, then, and only then, can we do something to attempt to end the violence.

Original Poem by Isha Jade

Facts About Autism:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (NIV Matthew 19:14)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Don't Deprive me of my age. I have earned it."

~ May Sarton

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"I do not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years. Washing away my pain. The same way carvings on stone are worn down by water."

~ Amy Tan

Friday, December 14, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 6

15 Day blogger Challenge

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Getting to Know the Blogger

This challenge is open to any and everyone who wants to get to know each other a little better in the blogosphere. I encourage you all to make this challenge your own. There is no special format to follow or rules on posting. Do your challenge in 1 day by answering all the questions at once or do it in 90 days. Just have fun!

Challenge Questions:

Where have you worked?


In my life I have worked many, many jobs. I began making money for myself as a child. This started from a little old man that walked by my house every day. I cannot remember the name of the elderly gentleman, but I can see him when I close my eyes as if he were standing in front of me. The gentleman was always dressed in a pair of slacks and long sleeved button down shirt. On cooler days, the man wore a suit jacket. The man's snow white hair was neatly combed back revealing his growing widow's peak as each strand glistened in the beams from the overhead sun. He walked with a slight limp and was assisted by a hand carved wooden cane. The kind old man had pale blue eyes that would bore through your soul if you allowed them too. Each day that he would pass by my childhood home, he would have a chore for us to do, and we would be paid a quarter for each chore. The chores were often simple such as gathering some of the mulberries that fell from the tree, rinsing them, and bring them to the gentleman for a sweet snack. Others would include picking a rose from my tiny rosebush in front of the porch or a branch of the pale pink Crepe Myrtle growing in front of my bedroom window. This man instilled a value in me that serves me to this day, good work ethic.

My work ethic is what also drove me to do chores for many of my neighbors in an effort to assist them with tasks that had become difficult for them. I never asked for money and often offered my services for free. Some of the neighbors insisted in paying a quarter or two, sometimes I would be offered a dollar. I know it does not seem like much compared to today's standards, but then, a dollar would fill my purse full of candy and snacks. I did not always spend my money on the sugary sweets that I craved, for I often saved every dime I made for other purposes.

Once I turned ten, I made extra money babysitting for friends and family that lived in the area. I enjoyed being the primary caretaker for the small infants and toddlers that I watched. I babysat my Filipino cousin, his little brother, and my small cousin, who ended up staying with us for an extended period of time. My experience caring for small children helped me develop my parenting skills and the skills needed to care for a medically fragile child. As a teenager of 14, I began to care for a female infant that had Craniostynostosis. I cared for her in her parents' home while they worked as an EMT and Paramedic for the local hospital. I had to be available at all times while they were on call. In other words, I had to stay at their home, even when they were home, to watch the beautiful little red haired infant.

Once I was old enough, I began working as a waitress at the local steak house. My responsibilities were making burger patties with the 'secret' seasoning, marinating the steaks, waiting on customers, running the register, and keeping the salad bar fresh and clean. I worked at the restaurant until my sister went to a party at my bosses home. My mother made me quit my job because she did not want me to work for an adult who would contribute to the delinquency of minors.

It was not long after I had quit my job at the local steak house that I moved to live with my brother and father. Once I settled in, I started looking for work. I had a family member who worked at Wal-Mart, so I was not able to get a job there. I ended up finding work as a cook for Long John Silver's. I eventually worked my way to running the drive through and the register up front as well. I worked for Long John Silver's for over a year. I had transferred to a store in Lubbock when I graduated high school. The first several months were fine, and the work had become routine.

That is until I was scheduled by myself with three male workers. The assistant manager had followed me into the cooler and tried to remove my clothing. I tried to exit the door after kneeing the man between the legs. However, the door would not budge. I could hear the muffled laughs of the other two men, who must of been holding the door shut. The assistant manager continued to try to rip my clothing off of me when I began screaming and crying at the top of my lungs. My sweat covered skin began to stick to the frozen door as I continued to scream. l kept yelling, "He's hurting me! He's hurting me!" over and over again until the men on the outside door opened to let me out. I could tell by looking in their faces, they two young men felt ashamed as they could not make eye contact with me.

I started to run out the exit door of the store when the assistant manager yelled, "If you tell anyone what happened, I will tell them that you have been having an affair with me the entire time you worked here. I will make sure that your husband knows that you have been unfaithful to him."

I stopped dead in my tracks. The assistant manager knew my ex-husband and I, as my ex-husband was also an assistant manager for the other store in town. He also knew that my ex-husband was very abusive and very racist. If he believed that I was having an affair with a black man, I would most likely be beaten to death. I turned around and yelled, "Well, I'm quitting anyway."

"Well you can't leave with that shirt on or that apron! That's our property," he responded.

I pulled off my shirt and apron, threw it at him and ran across the street to use the phone. While at Wendy's I told the manager what had just happened to me, and showed him the claw marks on my body. I didn't care that the assistant manger across the street was going to make up an affair that never happened. The Wendy's manager gave me a work shirt to wear, and the police showed up quickly. I watched out the window as the police officers escorted the three men from the restaurant across the street and into the police cars.

After the excitement had died down and the officer interviewing me left Wendy's, the Wendy's manager offered me a position running the register in her store. She assured me that it would be a safe working environment, and I would have the opportunity to advance in the restaurant if I wished to. I accepted the position, and worked nights while I finished receiving my Legal Assistant diploma at the business college I attended. I had worked my way up to trainer by the time I left Wendy's for a position at an agricultural insurance company.

I started at the insurance company as the receptionist, who answered phones and sorted mail. Before long, I was making the company's monthly newsletters to go out to the insurance agents and adjusters. I began working on the books and eventually worked as an assistant computer programmer.

Although I worked at the insurance company, I also had three other jobs. I worked for a janitorial service, with whom I cleaned a vending company at four in the morning. I worked evenings at Pizza Hut and Benaglio's, and I worked weekends at an all night daycare. I worked all of these jobs in order for my ex-husband to go to college. He was a junior working on his engineering degree. I found out that he had stopped going to school months before I knew about it, but I did not confront him about it because I knew I would be beat. (Now, before you judge, know this. I would have left the man, but he threatened that if I did, he would kill my family. I stayed with him to protect my parents, sister and nephew, grandmother and uncle, and little brother. This man had tried to kill me on more than one occasion, so I knew he had it in him to keep his word if I left.)

I continued working the five positions until my ex-husband joined the military, and I moved home with my family. I was hired back at Long John Silver's and worked there until my sister asked me to move in with her and help her with her new son. Not long after I moved to Abilene, I received a job at Grandy's. I worked from four in the morning until noon. It was the perfect job for a nineteen year old. With my ex-husband stationed over seas, I had finally gained the nerve to file for a divorce which was granted after his first child, with another woman, was born. I started out making minimum wage and had received over $2.50/hour raises in the nine months I worked there before moving to Sweetwater.

While living in Sweetwater, I was hired as a fuel desk clerk at Roscoe Truck and Travel. I started testing my wings and lived on my own for the very first time. I moved to Winters and worked as a cook at the local steak house for a short time, and I eventually moved back to Sweetwater. I soon received a job at the Sweetwater 76 as a hostess running the register in the restaurant. I worked my way up to assistant manager of the restaurant. That is when I met my current husband Darren, but that is another beautiful story.

After developing a close connection with DJ and several months of constant and consistent contact, my heart swayed me to move to Indiana, where he lived. I soon applied for and received a job as a server at Applebee's Bar and Grill right before the restaurant opened the doors for the first time. I worked there as a server and a server trainer up until DJ and I decided to try to live in Abilene. I was hired at Chelsea's Street Pub and soon learned that I was pregnant. I was given restrictions by my obstetrician including no lifting. The manager insisted that I could still lift the heavy oak chairs and place them on the table. When I refused to risk losing my child, my manager became angry. I quit my job at the pub and was immediately hired as a waitress at the Best Western Hotel restaurant.

Several months passed without incident. DJ was unable to find employment, and we knew he needed to find a job soon because the due date of the baby was nearing. We returned to Indiana where DJ was rehired to work for Gunther's Trucking as a driver. I started back to work at Applebee's and worked up until right before Halloween. In September, the doctor told me that I was beginning to show signs of Toxemia, and he restricted me to working part time with no lifting. Since I was restricted on what I could do, I resumed my training position, and I worked occasionally as a hostess and hostess trainer. Before Halloween, I was put on full bed rest and had to take maternity leave.

My son was born in late November, and I returned to work in January. I soon found out I was pregnant once again and was put on bed rest right away due to being high risk. I did not work again until my second son was a year old. I began working as a bookkeeper for Bruno Enterprises, and I cleaned offices for a law firm. I soon found out my oldest son was being physically abused at daycare, so I pulled my children from the daycare and stayed at home with my children.

When my youngest was three and my oldest learned to speak, I returned to work. I worked as an assistant manager at a convenience store for a good while. My husband and I decided to return to Abilene, and I became a stay-at-home mother. If you ask me, that has always been my toughest job. I loved staying home with my children; but with daily therapies for my oldest son due to his autism, I was often too worn out to find a job out of the home. I did, however, volunteer at the children's school and became volunteer of the year three years in a row.

My oldest son was eight years of age when I decided to become a student. I had been putting off college every since I first graduated high school for one reason of another. I entered the work-study program and worked the first year of school in the library as an assistant. The following year, I was a teacher's assistant where my main duties were record keeping and keeping up with the online classes and as a mathematic's tutor. My last few years in college, I worked only as what was required for my courses. I assisted teachers in local schools, helped tutor students in the reading clinic, and student teaching responsibilities. I graduated from the university with honors.

Although I graduated at the top of my class, I had difficulty finding suitable employment. I put in over two hundred applications and resumes before I was offered a position as an investigator at Child Protective Services. I worked there for a year before I decided to leave my position. I made this decision for three reasons. The first being that I was working 60-80 hours per week and did not get paid for my overtime. The overtime was mandatory, but my supervisor would change my hours so she would not get in trouble.

The second reason is that I was paying all of my take home pay back into the job in travel money. I had no actual income to live on because I spent my first three months out of the academy working the Snyder/Sweetwater area, which is Nolan County, Scurry County, and Mitchell County. That position was opened when I applied for the job, but I did not apply for that position for a reason. My abusive ex-husband was from the area as well as an ex-boyfriend, both of which attempted to kill me. I told my supervisor over and over again that I did not want to work there, but she did not seem to care. I would get cases on old friends and family, and I would notify the supervisor, but I was forced to keep the cases. According to state law, due to conflict of interest, I was not supposed to be taking cases on people I knew.

Finally, the job was a high stress position. I was often reliving the abuse that I had endured throughout my lifetime. I became so depressed that I had to turn off my emotions to get out of bed everyday. My family became worried about me, as they had seen that I had changed. The kids were worried that I had become mean. No, I did not hurt or abuse my children, we just argued every day over trivial things. DJ told me, "Your job is killing you. You aren't the same person that you were before you started working there."

My oldest son said, "You used to be bright, cheerful, and bubbly. Now, you are dark and cynical."

My youngest said, "With all due respect, Mom, with all due respect, you're a bitch."

The words cut through my heart like a hot knife through butter. Here, I had taken a job to help children and to assist families, and the job was tearing my family apart. I immediately resigned my position and agreed to stay for a month in order to close some of my 42 cases. I have not found a job over the last eleven and a half months, but I am still looking. I never was paid my full overtime. I only received $5,500 of the $14,000 in overtime owed me, but that, my readers, is another story.

"If I can't have too many truffles, I will do without."

~ Colette

Thursday, December 13, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 5

15 Day blogger Challenge

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Getting to Know the Blogger

This challenge is open to any and everyone who wants to get to know each other a little better in the blogosphere. I encourage you all to make this challenge your own. There is no special format to follow or rules on posting. Do your challenge in 1 day by answering all the questions at once or do it in 90 days. Just have fun!

Challenge Questions:

Who were your closest friends as a teenager?


I doubt I will ever be able to pin down anyone I would consider a "closest friend" or a group of "closest friends" as a teenager. I was the kid that was on the outskirts of the average typical teen. I did not fit in with any clique, but I was friends with everyone. My school was small, so it was more of a matter of growing up with one another rather than being cliquish. I am not denying that we had our stoners and our preps, but we all, more or less, got along with one another. As you learned from before, I was very geeky. I still am.

Anyway, I had many friends that had a place in my heart. I guess, I did have close friends when I was younger, but everything changed when I was in high school. My home life was brutal, as the ongoing battle between my sister and my parents kept our household in chaos. For this reason, I pulled away from my closest friends. I still would hang out with them every now and again, but it was too embarrassing for me to be close enough to someone to let them enter my world. The one friend that I clung to the most was Priscilla, but I still do not believe that she knew and understood everything that I was going through.

Together, Prissy and I would listen to The Cure and explore our newfound 'Alternative' lifestyles. We often bought our dark depressing clothing with one another in tow. Prissy dreamed of being a clothing designer, and she would find new ways to make our clothing edgy and unique. One weekend, Prissy and I spent the entire weekend putting safety pins on a denim jacket I had bought. She taught me how to make my hair stand on end and how to make my dark eye makeup even darker.

Unfortunately, as the battles at home raged and my mother slipped into her depression, my depression began to creep in as well. I think that Prissy was the only person that knew that I cut myself on a daily basis. The darkness that invaded my life enveloped me, and I had grown numb. Night after night, I would drag the razor blade across my skin just so I could feel something, anything. When Prissy grew worried about the marks I hid under friendship bracelets, black rubber bracelets, and Swatches, I shut her out as well. Our friendship was never the same from that point.

I was still the perfect little student wearing a perfect little smile across my face in public. I was embarrassed to go around the friends I had gone to church with throughout my life because I was arrested  twice for running away so that I could go to church. Mom's demands on me were painful, as I felt time and time again I was being punished for my sister's wrongdoings. Not being allowed to attend church was the final straw. My rough exterior broke, and I dove into a depression that surpassed my sister's. I do not blame my sister or my mother for my reaction to the strict rules set before me. I understand, today, that my mom did not want me to make the same mistakes my sister had made, so she set up a stiffer regiment for me than my sister.

When my sister moved out of the home, I was shielded and 'protected.' I was only allowed to attend school functions, and church was not permitted. Then, I did not understand, so the harder my mother tried, the further she pushed me away. Not long after my sister left, my father left. A few months later, my brother was gone too.

Rebellion had become my middle name. By the beginning of my Senior year, I had no friends only acquaintences. I did not trust anyone at all. My depression peaked when I learned that the school board did not want me to be drum major. I started drinking, doing drugs, and smoking pot was my number one past time. However, cocaine was my drug of choice. I dated guys that were bad influences just to piss my parents off, as well as have easy access to drugs and alcohol. Soon, I was seeing less and less of my mother, and I, pretty much, had the house to myself.

One evening, the shift at the hospital was overstaffed, and my mother was sent home to work. I had snuck my sister over to hang out with me. I watched in horror, as my mother drug her out of the home by her hair, and the two equal sized women beat the hell out of one another. Mom, eventually, stopped coming home. I thought that I was abandoned and all alone. I only was able to eat at school because I received free lunches. The house was out of food, and I often found myself going to the convenience store my aunt managed to beg for food.

The electricity was soon shut off, and I used candlelight to find my way through the house. Although I was doing drugs and drinking, I still kept up with going to school, doing my homework, and making good grades. After all, I had an image to uphold. When I was not at school, band practice, basketball practice, or a game, I was out with my boyfriend doing drugs and raising hail. I remember being chased by the police one night. I jumped from the car and scrambled down alleyways until I found myself home. My boyfriend took off in the other direction. His sister came to the house later that night to tell me that he had been arrested and was in jail.

I had not seen Mom in a few days. I was still begging my aunt for food, and eating my free breakfast and lunches at school. When I had not attended school in two days, the concerned principal, who I had become a regular visitor to, called my grandmother's house, as she was listed as my emergency contact. My sister answered the phone and was notified of my failure to attend classes, and he voiced his concern. Knowing how my geekiness drove me to strive to finish school, my sister became concerned as well.

My sister arrived at the tiny apartment I shared with my mother to find me lying on the couch with 104 degree temperature. She ran to the store where my aunt was working and had her call my father because no one had any idea where to find my mother. My aunt gave my sister Tylenol and a bag of ice. She instructed my sister to run me a cold bath with the ice and give me the pills to help bring my temperature down.

My father arrived at the house in a couple of hours and took me to the emergency room in the hospital my mother worked in. While the doctor explained to my father that I had irreparable kidney damage due to the severe infection, a patient was wheeled into the area next to mine. The nurses and doctors were working frantically to save the life on the other side of the curtain when we heard one state, "Breathe, Sandy. Dammit!" My dad pulled the curtain back and their laid my mother on the gurney.

I had not known that the stress of raising a child with mental illness had become overwhelming for my mother. I never realized how it had broken my family apart and twisted each one of us into one another's worst enemy. Mom had been battling a battle of her own, and I was so absorbed in my teenaged angst that I had failed to see it. The loss of my sister in the family home and built wedges in-between each and every one of us. My father and mother separating had added stress to my mother, and the rebellion that forced my mother to send my brother to live with Dad had taken its toll.

The last thing this woman needed was to lose me too, and lose me she had. Her nervous breakdown had forced her to make a decision to enter a stress unit where she could heal and grow strong once again. Unfortunately, the teenaged me did not understand how hard life had been for mom, and I still carried resentment toward her for abandoning me until I had children of my own.

I moved to a much larger school in a much larger town where I knew no one but my father, brother, and several much older and much older cousins. No one in the school knew me, and I was able to get a fresh start. I was very reserved and timid, and I still did not want to let anyone in. However, two of the coolest people I have ever known had become my very close friends, Michelle and Shane.

Like me, Michelle was quiet and did not like to be loud or raise hell. She reminded me a lot of my friend Prissy. We hung out together, attended dances together, and even went to the prom together. I stayed at Michelle's house on occasion, but I never allowed her to stay at my home, as I was sharing a two bedroom apartment with my father and brother and had to sleep on the couch when my father was off of work. Dad worked the night shift; so when he worked, I slept in his bed. Not having a bed of my own, a dresser of my own, and living out of boxes was embarrassing to me. We did eventually move into a house after my mother was released from the stress unit, and my family was reunited. Michelle did not know a lot about my family.

Shane, on the other hand, knew everything about me as he recognized my behaviors because they we behaviors he and I shared. We were often in 'flight or fight mode.' Shane and I grew very close because his homosexuality helped me bond with a man on a level that I did not feel threatened or at risk for sexual advances. Shane knew about my drug habit, which I kept well hidden from everyone else, and he knew about my cutting habit. He did not judge me because of the scrutiny he had fought his entire life due to his more feminine attributes.

To date, I do not think that Shane really realizes how much he means to me, but Michelle is well aware. She and I are still in contact with one another and enjoy watching one another's families grow and change via the internet. I would love, someday, to have the opportunity to spend time with Michelle once again. I would also love to be able to find and contact Prissy. I think of her often and miss being her friend. Though time has passed, I know that we would be able to re-enter our friendship. Most of the other children I grew up with are my friends on my Facebook, and we are still acquainted with one another. Several of them I hold dear as they were my first friends and companions, which I foolishly pushed away my final school years. I would love, some day, to be able to let them know how much they meant to me as a child and how I still carry them with me, but that, my darlings, is another story.

"I always wear slacks because of the brambles and maybe the snakes."

~Katharine Hepburn

Dandelion on My Pillow, Butcher Knife Beneath

~ I just finished this book. ~ This book was awe inspiring. Reading the book puts you on the emotional roller coaster that therapeutic families ride on every day. It helps you understand what it is like to be a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, as well as a parent raising a child with mental illness.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 4

15 Day blogger Challenge

What type of student were you in school?

Not Just a Band Geek

Growing up, school was my life. I loved school and strived to be the best I could be no matter the cost. I often spent my days learning everything that I could learn. After school would let out, I would walk home, do my chores and start on my homework. Unfortunately, due to my slow writing speed, poor penmanship, and dyslexia, it would often take me all evening to finish my school work. I often fell asleep trying to finish, and I got up extra early to finish what I had not completed the next morning. I would often ask the teachers to allow me to stay inside during recess to finish what I had not completed the night before. I struggled intensely trying to make the A's that were the results of all of my hard work. In the third grade, I received my first and only C throughout my school career. I had broken my arm and was not able to complete the required pull ups to pass my P.E. class. The teacher told my mother that my doctor's note meant that I did no work throughout the six weeks, and she felt that her giving me a passing grade was more than generous for the laps I walked around the school while everyone else ran. The following six weeks, my arm was still weak from misuse, and I received only a B in the P.E. class. These were my only non-A grades I would see on my report card through my completion of high school.

In sixth grade, I found my passion, band. I loved playing the clarinet, but did not do as well as I would have liked due to my fine motor skill difficulties. The band director noticed that I had great difficulty keeping up with my peers, so I was moved to bass clarinet. I excelled and was eventually capable of picking up my speed. I competed in UIL solos and ensembles, where I received medals at each competition. I earned a spot in the UIL District Band, Regional Band, and 1st Alternate for State Band. I played the clarinet, bass clarinet, alto clarinet, and contrabass clarinet. I had always loved music, and the feeling I received from playing the music was monumental as I allowed the music to fill my soul.

Although I was a big band geek, I was geeky in other areas as well. I excelled at math and loved working with numbers through algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. I must confess, I do math for fun and break out my college trigonometry book when I am bored. Being able to work so well with numbers, I was able to put together computer programs quickly and with very little work. I was able to figure out efficient short cuts that cut down the time I put into programs. I excelled in both subjects and was named Most Outstanding Geometry, Trigonometry, Computer, and Band Student over the years in high school, as well as making Who's Who In America.

I also enjoyed writing and won many writing contests and scholarships for both my poetry and prose. I was the editor of the year book, wrote stories for the school paper, and photographer for both yearbook and the paper. I was quite surprised, however, when I competed for and won the spot drum major, I was told by the school board that they did not want me to take the spot.

Having a sister with mental illness, our family had been run through the wringer. We were judged on the actions of her, which was  fair to neither us, nor her. The school board stated that I was not a suitable representative for the school. This was not the first and would not be the last time that I was judged on the actions of my sibling.

My freshman year of high school, I was excited that I would be in high school. I went to my second class of the day, English. As I was walking into the classroom with my friends, the teacher put her arm across the door blocking my entry into the classroom. With a snotty inflection in her voice, she asked, "You're Cassie McGhee's sister?"

"Yes, I'm Pam." I put out my hand for a handshake.

The teacher snarled her nose and did not except my respectful offer. "I will not have you acting up in class the way your sister did last year. Will I?"

With tears in my eyes, I answered, "No Ma'am. I'm not like my sister." I was both ashamed and embarrassed to the point that I had difficulty making eye contact with the teacher all four years of high school. I was actually relieved to be moving in the middle of my senior year because I was able to have a fresh start.

My senior year was the year that everything fell apart. My mother and father had separated. My brother moved away to live with my father, and my sister had moved out of the home the spring before. Towards the end of November, my mother had a nervous breakdown due to our stressful lives. I was moved away to live with my father, and my mother joined us once my parents reconciled the following April. In the new town, I did not have to fight the image that people had of my family due to my sister's bipolar disorder. I excelled in my new school, and raised my grades to where I graduated number 8 out of 400 students. I had friends that had no idea of my family's past and my past life did not haunt me. I did not feel the need to drown myself in school and activities. However, I did remain in band and competed in an ensemble competition where I won one more medal. I also remained in Yearbook and was made co-editor of the yearbook due to my ability to quickly learn the computer program. The editor was glad to split the load, as she was overwhelmed that year.

When I attended university, I carried the study skills I had refined over the years with me. I worked in the library, tutored other students in college algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, and I was the co-founder of The Writers' Guild, our creative writing club. I earned Dean's and President's lists each semester as well as Alpha Chi. I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I had the grade point average for Suma Cum Laude; but since I was a transfer student, I was not awarded the title.

Today, I miss being a student more than anything. I think that is why I received my degree in my multiple majors, Secondary Education, English, and Special Education. I just wish the job market was not as tight as it is. Regardless of my education, I have not been able to find adequate employment. But, that is another story.

"I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch."

~ Gilda Radnor

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cooper High School Bel Canto ~ Christmas 2012 Concert

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 3

15 Day blogger Challenge

What's some of your favorite memories from childhood?


The women in my family are my most favorite memories. I was blessed with wonderful grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Because my mother had just turned eighteen years old before I was born, my older sister and I were fortunate enough to not only know all except for one of our natural grandparents but also know all of our great-grandparents. The one grandparent I never knew was my maternal grandfather, who passed away nine years before I was born. I love all my family members, but I learned so much from  the women in my family.

All of my grandmothers were endowed with a strength that I have driven myself to emulate. My great grandmothers were Thuller Othell (Collins) McGhee, Velma Twilight (Fraiser) Kinney, Stella Mae (Butler) Bartley, and Nancy May (Essary) White. Thuller was the mother of seven children, Roy Lee (Lee Roy), Letha, Alfred, Billy Ray, Doris Marie, Dean Wayne, and Mary. Lee Roy was my grandfather. From Thuller, one of my Irish grandmothers, I learned how to stand firm on principles and beliefs. Of the four great grandmothers, I feel I favor Thuller the most in my appearance.

What I remember the most about Velma Twilight, affectionately known as Granny Kinney, is the stories that she shared with me. Though I did not live close to Granny Kinney, we did write back and forth to one another over the years, and I treasure the pile of letters that I keep in my family tree album. I often pull the letters out and reread how my great-great grandfather was a cowboy that rode in cattle drives in Texas and New Mexico. I read how he lived during the civil war and was once mistaken as a renegade. Her letters spin stories of a family struggling to survive through the early 1900's and over the last hundred years. Velma also shared stories of how she raised her five Native American children, Novalee Ethel (my grandmother), Peggy Joyce, James Kenneth, Billy Lyndon, and Patricia Ann. From Velma, I learned how to document the history of my family, and how important stories of the past are to helping people understand their culture and where they come from.

I also learned a lot about my ancestry from Nancy May. As a child, I would sit at her feet and listen to stories as her tiny body rocked in her rocking chair. She spoke of working in a speak easy in the 1920's, working in the cotton fields, and being the mother of her nine children: William Thelon, Minnie Lee, Benjamin Franklin, Emery Alvin, Katherine May, Lorene Ann, Mary Francis (my grandmother), Harvey Chester, and Flossie Marie. Grandma White also told me stories of  how it was like growing up as a Native American in a white man's world. Some stories were somber and made me think about who I am and where I belong in this world. From Grandma White, I learned that the world can be a tough place to live, and how I need to walk strong in the world. I also learned from her that we are not only mind and body but also soul. I learned that family is bonded together in a manner that is difficult for many to understand. I, like her, can sense when a family member needs me, and how to give them a strong shoulder to cry on.

Strength is the definition of my Grandma Bartley, Stella Mae. She was the toughest Irish woman I have ever known. I think she had to be tough raising three rough and rowdy boys, Clyde, John Cleveland (J.C. my grandfather), and Clyde. I remember Grandma Bartley more than I remember my other great-grandmothers. Perhaps, this is due to the consistent contact I had with her. She and I attended church together, and I spent time alone with her after. We trampled together in the fields picking black eyed peas and shucking them on her back porch. She still had one of the early washing machines with the hand cranked rollers to squeeze the water from the clothes. Grandma Bartley always had a garden that required tending, and I loved eating the fresh fruits and vegetables that grew there. This woman would take off under the house to fix her own plumbing while well into her nineties. From her I learned pure determination and that the power of the world was mine if I wanted it. Grandma Bartley's strength was unmeasurable, as she had to grow the tough exterior after losing two of her children, J.C. and Clyde, at a young age.

My grandmother, Novalee, also had a tough exterior that she had developed throughout the years. She was the mother of nine children, Lynda Ann, Brenda Carol, David LeeRoy (Daddy), Susan Lavonda, Anthony Darryll, Aaron Glenn, Jana Renae, Mark Edward, and Melonie Lynette. Granny was the hard working Native American grandmother that spent her life working in truck stops as both a cook and a waitress. I remember watching Granny take care of her customers, who were often regulars, as she made sure that they were happy. Granny always had a smile on her face, and I cannot remember ever seeing her unhappy. She was dedicated and devoted to my grandfather and loved both him and her children intensely. And, this is what I learned from her. I learned that love is everlasting, and people can die of a broken heart, as she passed away less than a month after we lost her love.

Love emanates from the very atmosphere surrounding my Grandma Kierepka. Of each grandmother, she is the one grandmother I still have with me. My memories of Grandma are infinite, but I remember the songs the most. My grandmother would dance through the house and sing, though off-key, feeling the air of her home with happiness and joy. She taught me how to dance, and we would jitterbug throughout her house. Grandma's laugh is infectious. She is the poet and artist, and from her I learned how to infuse my words and art with power. I can honestly say that Grandma Kierepaka is one of my best friends, and having her living so far away, now, is very difficult on both my boys and me. Grandma taught me that money does not make happiness, and happiness comes from love and family.

I love each of my grandmothers very much. Although Grandma Kierepka is the only grandmother that I still have with me, I carry all of my grandmothers in my very heart and soul. They are my strength and power, my creativity and discipline, and my heart and soul. From each grandmother, I learned how to be a woman and what a woman was meant to be, which is why I feel that my best childhood memories stem from my relationship with each of them.

"Elegance does not consist of putting on a new dress."

~ Coco Chanel

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Our goal should be health and stamina."

~Emme Aronson

Dylan Swimming

This is one of my favorite photos of Dylan that I took several years back.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, December 7, 2012

"I deliberately overeat to give my body the most voluptuous contours I can acquire. Growing fatter is one of the most intensely sensuous things that I have ever experienced."

~ Margaret Deidre O'Hartigan

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"'Araid' is a country with no exit visa."

~ Audre Lorde

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"If you don't want to get old, don't mellow." ~ Linda Ellerbee

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 2

15 Day blogger Challenge

Where did you grow up? Small town or Big City?

Small Town, USA

I could tell you a thousand lies about where I grew up, but I do not feel that I should try to deceive you. Therefore, I will tell you the truth. Most of the time, I feel that I grew up in the depths of hell, but there are other times, I feel that I grew up in a happy place.

The fact of the matter is that I grew up in a very small town deep in the heart of Texas. As a child, the town had a resident population of approximately 2,500 people, and I knew each and every one. Although we were only 2,500 strong, we were the county seat and the largest town for 60 miles south, 92 miles west, and 100 miles north, much further east. I lived in a smaller town 10 miles to the west when I was first born, but I was born in the county seat and spent most of my childhood there.

I am a great-great grandchild to two of the three original families that settled the town. The three Irish families took a wagon train from Ohio to Texas in 1848. As a child, I was kin to most of the residents in the town one way or another. For a matter-of-fact, I believe I am kin to half of the county now.

The area I grew up in is a farm area with some oil field work. There were three types of people in my small town. 1. Those who worked the farms and owned the farms. 2. Those who worked in the oilfield. 3. Those who worked in the local stores and businesses. My father started off working the farms with his father as a child. They were day laborers, not farm owners. However, he went to work in the oil field when he became an adult, and he never went back to farm work.

The wealthier children in school were children of farm owners or business owners, most of which were related to farm owners. The rest of the town lived at or below the poverty line. I grew up being called oilfield trash, white trash, and many other hateful words. I would sit in the corner crying because the boys in my school could be so cruel. Most of the girls were nice regardless of their socio-economic status. One boy, in particular, teased me on a daily basis. His family happened to be one of the wealthiest farm families in the region. Everyday, this boy called me oilfield trash, and every day, from kindergarten to sixth grade, I cried.

Because our school was guilty of tracking the students, I was in class with my nemesis every single year. In sixth grade, I started thinking about how miserable the boy had made my school career, and I grew tired of the constant torment. He walked by my desk, knocked my book in the floor and bent over to call me "oilfield trash" as he picked up my book. The book was an excuse to get on my level, so I would hear the degrading insult. The picking the book up was so the other students and teacher were unaware that he was actually being mean. I stood up from my desk and yelled, "If it wasn't for people like my dad, your family would still be using horse driven plows!"

I was immediately sent to the principal's office and disciplined by paddling for disrupting the class. The boy did not stop teasing me, but I did not let him bother me as much as I had before sixth grade. That was up until tenth grade when I was punished after slapping him for calling my sister crazy and my mother a whore. I knew that my sister had mental issues, but I did not understand them. Often, I would be the first to call her crazy because I was not educated on bipolar disorder, and I truly believed that she was able to control her actions and her behaviors. I know now that she could not.

As for my mother, my father and she had split up. This was no surprise to any of us that knew my parents. They had always argued and fought with one another. They did eventually get back together, and they never stopped loving one another. They just needed time apart as they had been married when my mother was still a child, 16 years old. Rest assured, my mother was not a whore. She was a nursing student working hard doing her internship in the next town over.

Anyway, I did love my town too. I loved that I could go anywhere, and I was not a stranger. I loved that I could walk from one end of town to the other in twenty minutes. I loved that all of my grandparents lived in the area, and I could see them whenever I wanted to. I loved that when I wanted to run away, Grandma's house was not that far to walk. I loved that I could go swimming at the local pool every day except for Monday during the summers. I loved that there were so many neighbors willing to allow me to do odd jobs and babysit their children for a little extra money. I loved that no matter where I went, I felt safe. I loved my school most of all.

Although I had the bullying throughout the years, most of my peers were nice to me. Most of us were raised together. We would take turns hanging out with one another, and we would take turns throwing slumber parties. I was never as cool as the other girls because I was one of the biggest nerds in the school. I loved creative writing, and I loved math. Numbers and computers were what I got, and I often understood them more than human nature. I actually received awards for my math and computer skills. I was a band geek and became the drum major my senior year of high school. I was in the district band and regional band, and I often received medals in UIL band competitions. I was also the president of the pep squad, played basketball, and ran track. I never took homemaking, as I was in 4-H and learned how to cook and sew there. I took shop class my senior year and built my father a wooden tool box. I competed yearly in the talent shows and was often cast a leading role in plays due to my memorization skills. I think the best thing about going to a small school is that the students get the opportunity to try everything that they want, so they can truly know their individual talents and abilities.

Every year, my town put on the Wild Horse Pioneer Days. We would ride horses in the parade and join in the rodeo festivities including the dances. I love to dance and had been attending local dances since I was a little girl. I looked forward to the yearly fair and competed in the fair queen contest throughout my high school years. Our town was really big on parades as well. We had a parade for the Wild Horse Pioneer Days, a parade for the fair, and a parade for Christmas. I, of course, was in each parade because of band, GA's, 4-H, Girl Scouts, or the church choir. One year, I rode on a friend's float for her mother's local western store.

Every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a stranger to town would swear they were in the middle of a Shirley Jackson story had they driven through the downtown area of town. Every resident would be crowded into the street for the grocery store drawings. They gave out cash prizes and gift certificates for local stores. If you shopped in the small grocery store, you would receive a ticket for every so many dollars you spent. We would chase after the people handing out free hard candies and climb upon Santa's lap to fill his head full of our wishes and dreams. Afterwards, we would return to our heated homes, or travel sixty miles south to the 'big city' (I often laugh when I think about how big the city was when I was a child. I know, now, that the 'big city' really is not that big. It is where I live and am raising my children.)

What I liked about my home town, I hated as well. It was small. I could not do anything without anyone knowing about it. The children, young adults, and adults in the town do not seem to have any privacy, as many people gossip, spread rumors, and make your business their business. As I grew older, I grew to yearn to be free of the pain and sorrow that stifled me.  I have visited my hometown on many occasions since I left it behind 23 years ago. I only attended one homecoming game, as it was made quite clear to me by a couple of my old classmates that I no longer belonged there.

I did move from the town in the middle of my senior year. It was no choice of my own. My mom was ill and in the hospital, and there was no money for the rent. We had been evicted from our apartment, and the only place I had to go was my father's home almost 100 miles west. I am sad to say that I no longer fee that the town I was born and raised in I no longer consider my home. Most of my family members have moved far, far way, and there does not seem to be anything in that tiny Texas town for me anymore.
"I never practice, I only play."
~ Wanda Landowska

Monday, December 3, 2012

"I have bursts of being a lady, but it doesn't last long."

~ Shelley Winters

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"All the women I know feel a little like outlaws."

~ Marilyn French

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"In my life's chain of events, nothing was accidental."

~ Hannah Senesh

Friday, November 30, 2012

"In my long and colorful career, one thing stands out: I have been misunderstood." 

~ Mae West

Thursday, November 29, 2012

15 Day Blogger Challenge ~ Getting to Know the Blogger ~ Day 1

15 Day blogger Challenge

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Getting to Know the Blogger

This challenge is open to any and everyone who wants to get to know each other a little better in the blogosphere. I encourage you all to make this challenge your own. There is no special format to follow or rules on posting. Do your challenge in 1 day by answering all the questions at once or do it in 90 days. Just have fun!

Challenge Questions:
1. Introduction to this Challenge and tell us a little about yourself!
2. Where did you grow up? Small town or Big City?
3. What's some of your favorite memories from childhood?
4. What type of student were you in school?
5. Who was your closest friends as a teenager?
6. Where have you worked?
7. Has your life gone the way you expected it?
8. Tell us a bit about your family!
9. What are your goals? What are your hobbies?
10. Why did you start blogging and what is your blog about?
11. What are a couple of your favorite blog tools that you use?
12. Your top 5 posts and why you think they were successful.
13. 3 blogs you visit and read enthusiastically.
14. Social Networks/Blog Communities you want others to know you're a part of.
15. Closing and any upcoming posts or raffles you would like to share with us.

Who Am I?

I am Damien and Dylan's mom. I am their buddy, their pal, their confidant, their disciplinarian. I am the person who bathed them, fed them, and powdered their bottoms. I am the person that they depended on for survival. I am the person that taught them how to walk, talk, and use the toilet. I am their advocate, and I helped them learn to stand up for themselves in times when backing down would be much, much easier. I am the person who has prepared them to leap from the nest every now and again before the day that will come when they leap just once more down their own paths and adventures. And, then, I will still be their mom, but lacking in their company and the endless responsibilities that consume my every day.

I am Darren's wife. I am his best friend, his balance, his equal, his intimate. I am committed to my life with him and bathe him in ceaseless doting. I am his lover, and together we reach the heights of passion and ecstasy and delve to the depths of the abyss in which to drown our sorrows. Together we share our thoughts, ideals, minds, values. I am the person that taught him not to fear love and how to trust. I am honest in my opinions and share with him even though we may not agree. I am his steadfast, loyal, devoted companion. I give him space when needed and join with him in our conquests of the obstacles in our lives. Together we are one power, but in his absence, I am still whole.

I am a daughter, a sister, a niece, an aunt, a granddaughter, and a friend. I confide, disclose, declare, confess. I am the person that will listen when an ear is needed. I use my words when advice is warranted. I am vigilant in my assertions and gentle in my opinions. I am a shoulder on which to cry and in need of a shoulder every now and again. I love, hold, cry, and remember. I am a caretaker, a friend, a master chef, and the life of the party. I am a wallflower drawn down in a corner and the nut hiding deep within its shell. I am just like the others and not like anyone else.

I am part of the people that permeate my innermost circles, and they a part of me. I carry them with me as I traverse my rocky path. At times they are the rocks on which I stub my toe, and others I am the sharp burr that penetrates their skin, but together concessions are made, and we smooth to tranquil pebbles, cool against the skin. I am a pocket of pebbles smoothed throughout the years. I learn and grow because of them and despite of them. I change, for I am malleable, complaisant, rebellious, consistent, erratic. I am common and conventional, embellished in my liberal eccentricities. I am a walking contradiction, a conformed antithesis to myself.

But, who am I?

The things that define me are the things that constrain me, as well as the things that allow me to run free. I am spiritual, one with nature, one against nature. I am a thinker, a student, a teacher, a philosopher.  I am rambunctious. I am meek. I am alone, surrounded by those who love me. I want only peace, harmony, love. I want love. I want love. I want love. I am at odds with myself.

But, who am I?

I am an entity filling space amongst atoms sitting upon atoms bound by a tiny charge. I am protons and electrons floating through air. I am flesh and blood with a heart that beats spreading the life-force throughout my limbs. I am the breath that rides upon the wind, without which I will cease. I am a stockpile of minerals that consume Earth, and to minerals, I will return. I am millions of cells held together by tissue bonds. I am a DNA code unique to myself. I am a collection of electrical impulses jumping from synapse to receptor. I am ideas, notions, impressions, feelings, judgments dangling from each dendrite in hopes of being noticed before lost forever. I am the neuron that charges every movement.

I am the frontal lobe, emotional, unpredictable, convergent. I am upper management and a disheveled mess. I am a wordsmith, a scribe, a pencil pusher. I am the parietal lobe, clumsy, awkward, graceful, elegant, steady, strong. I am the assemblage of all I see, perceive, catch from the corner of my eye. I am all that I hear and all that I am deaf to, the low hum of the world around me that I have long forgotten. I consist of every song, every word, every thought, every smell, every touch that has invaded my every sense. I am a multitude of memories, hopes, dreams, fantasies, realities. I am every award, every achievement, every goal conquered. I am every mistake I ever made.

But, who am I?

I honestly do not believe I can tell you, for I cannot even tell myself. The best I can say is that I am me.
"I want the freedom to carve and chisel my own face, to staunch the bleeding with ashes, to fashion my own Gods from my entrails." ~ Gloria Anzualdua

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"The pain of leaving those you love is only a prelude to understanding yourself." 

~ Shirley MacLaine

Monday, November 26, 2012

Native American Code of Ethics

  1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak. 
  2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance. 
  3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. 
  4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor. 
  5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community,the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours. 
  6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it be people or plant. 
  7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression. 
  8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you. 
  9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven. 
  10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism. 
  11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family. 
  12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow. 
  13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you. 
  14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of one's will within this universe. 
  15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails. 
  16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions. 
  17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others - especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden. 
  18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first. 
  19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others. 
  20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"What I wanted to be when I grew up was in charge." ~ Wilma Vaught

Friday, November 23, 2012

It is time to stop denying the inner bitch in ourselves. Stop apologizing for her. Set her free. 

~ Elizabeth Hilts

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Thankful for You

People have been asking what I am thankful for, and I could have done the daily thankful thing for the month, but I did not want to undersell what I am thankful the most, Damien and Dylan. 17 years ago I was blessed with the one thing that I was told I would never have. That was you, Damien. All I ever wanted was to be a mom, and I was devastated to think I would never have that. I am so glad, now, that those doctors were wrong. I believe, now, that my body was waiting for the right person to have children with.

Damien, I know that you have heard the story a hundred times, but I will say it again. When I became your mom, a ray of sunshine filled my world. That's why you have the nickname you do. A year later, another ray of sunshine filled my world. Dyl, that is when I was blessed with you. You two are a couple of the most wonderful young men in the world. Lord, it hasn't been easy, but it hasn't been bad either. Life with you boys has been absolutely wonderful.

I can't imagine a world without you or remember a time without you, and I don't want to. You two are the most precious gifts I could have ever gotten in my life. I love you boys!

I remember the day, almost 17 years ago, that we brought you home from the hospital. Damien, I don't think I have ever seen your father so proud as he was when he held you in his arms. I know that my entire world had changed because you brought sunshine into my life. That's why you have the nickname you do. You will always be MY Sunshine. 
1 wk

A year after Damien was born, DJ and I were blessed once more. Dylan, you have always been the most loving child in the world. Damien was so happy that we brought his baby brother home in time for his birthday party. Dylan, you were just a day old when we got to bring you home, and that was the best thing in the world. 
1 yr & 1 day

Fresh diapers, and all. Damien, look how much littler Dyl was than you.
1 yr & 4 days

Dyl's first Santa picture. Can you see him? He was so tiny. Damien, you didn't like Santa.
1 yr & 2 wks

Dylan's first Christmas. Yes, boys, you did sleep together all of the time. Damien was extra protective of you, Dyl, on this day. It was Christmas Eve at Tim's house in Battlecreek, Michigan. Dyl, had gotten out of the hospital the day before for his stomach surgery. Damien hadn't been allowed to come up to see his brother, and I had to sneak home in the middle of the night to shower and see Damien for more than a week. Damien was so glad to get his baby back home, and laid down to sleep with him when he got tired. 
13 mos & 4 1/2 weeks

It never mattered to you where you slept, Damien, as long as it was near your brother. I always found it funny that you both slept exactly the same for years, with your butts in the air. 
14 mos & 2 mos

I used to always buy you Winnie the Pooh clothes, they were similar but seldom identical. Dyl, you had been sleeping, and Damien crawled on the couch to soothe you. He could always get you to calm down when you would cry. 
15 mos & 3 months

Damien, you did not want to see the Easter Bunny, and you did not like that Easter Bunny. I could not get you to smile for anything. Dyl just was clueless except he knew where Mommy was, and he wasn't attached to her. 
16 mos & 4 mos

Yes, boys, I had to. You guys used to bathe together all of the time. It was just so much easier for me. 16 mos & 4 mos

Okay, now, I did dress you exactly alike here, but your dad got you these outfits. He's always been a big Tigger fan. 
18 mos & 6 mos

Damien, did you know that Dyl and you have been partners in crime pretty early. You guys knew I just baked cookies, and Dyl was trying to get you to get him some. He always did that. He would fuss, and you would get stuff until he quit fussing. You did try to climb the fence, but I stopped you first. Yes, you got the cookies, but I got them for you. 
19 mos & 7 mos

Partners in crime ~ The baby was supposed to be sleeping but brother got the bag of chocolate, climbed on the bed, and fed the baby the chocolate. I couldn't be mad about it though, because you two were just too cute with those 'busted' looks on your faces and covered in chocolate. I had to take a picture instead. 
20 mos & 8 mos

Poor, Dyl, Damien crawled in your playpen, woke you, and stole your binky. You were so upset with him. I did get your binky back, by the way, I just had to snap the picture first. 
23 mos & 11 mos

Dylly, Dylly, Dylly, you sure new how to make Mommy laugh! You always talked on that silly phone with it upside down and backwards, "Hewhoah." This is my favorite picture of the two of you. Damien had just discovered that he could stick out his tongue. You had just gotten home from the hospital from pneumonia the day I took this. 
2 & 1

Damien, you were so upset that Dyl jumped in your basket. You kept grunting at me to try to get me to get him out. Dyl, what a stinker. You weren't the least bit bothered that you made your brother cry.... and the rivalry has begun. Dyl, did you know you called him, Su-shy. You were trying to say Sunshine. 
2 & 1

Dyl, you always and forever had some kind of bandage on your head. I think this is from when the dog bit your ear because your ear is covered up in this one. There are some where your head is wrapped because of stitches in the back of your head. You fell while you were learning to walk and busted the back of your head on the hinge of the closet door. You have always been so clumsy. I remember the time that you were jumping off of the bed feet first into the laundry basket, and I told you, "Alex (we called you that back then), don't you jump off that bed feet first into that laundry basket."

"O'tay, Momma," and you went face first and ripped out your tooth. You were 16 months old then. Then we had the Disney On Ice/head busted on the toilet experience at 4, cut side from jumping off of the shed roof at 6, dislocated elbow at 7, broken foot on your birthday at 12, and most recently the boxer's blow from face planting at the Y from trying to jump down after hanging on the basketball goal at 14. 
2 & 1

Happy Birthday 15 years ago.... OMG!!! I cannot believe it's been that long. Dyl was upset because you got to blow out the candles first. But technically, you do become a year older two hours before he does. Don't worry, Dyl, you had a cake too. 
3 & 2

I have always been unconventional when getting your pictures made. The woman was a little worried that I wouldn't like them because of how I had you dressed. She was wrong because I absolutely love them. We took these pictures for Father's Day, and your dad was so surprised to get them. Damien, this is around the time that you first started speaking. I was so proud of you. Before then, you only spoke in grunts and sign language. 
3 & 2

I love this picture of you guys. I was a little perturbed with the photographer because he switched the Cookie Monster and Elmo to match your Halloween costumes. I was so excited for you to wear your costumes. You even had Sesame Street shoes on, but you didn't get to wear the costumes. This was the year that Damien tried to flush the costumes down the toilet. I ended up dressing Damien like a hobo and Dyl like a clown. Yes, Dylan, a clown.
3 & 2

I caught you two sneaking in the kitchen when I took this.... Like I say, partners in crime. I think this is around the time I started calling you Dr. Destructo and His Evil Sidekick. You guys were after the eggs.
4 & 3

I doubt you boys remember when we took you to the children's museum in Fort Worth, but you were both enthralled with the dinosaur displays. Damien wanted to touch that one, and that's why you two were climbing the fence. You two knew that you were in everything together. I cannot believe that you are 17 & 16 , because it seems as if it were just a little ways away when we took these, and you were 4 & 3 then.

This wagon was always your favorite. You had your father to tie it to his bike and cart you around the neighborhood. You rode in it on Lake Michigan because it floated like a boat. You had Grandpa tote you, Ginger, and Allyssa all over the back yard. And, you had Zach tie it to his bike and tote you around. 
4 & 3

Damien was so excited that he "gets to sit on the dinosaur," but he did get upset because the dino wasn't real and couldn't eat Dylan. 
5 & 4

Damien, I am not sure why you had that look on your face, but I get the feeling something pretty funny must have happened. See, Dyl thought it was funny anyway. 
5 & 4

Dylan, you were so excited that Damien was graduating Headstart in this picture, "because it means I get to go to school now." You did get a little upset to learn that you had to wait three more months "because that's forever." 
5 & 4

Your cousins, Zach & Lyssa, were always like siblings to you, and trust me, you all fought like you were too. I don't, however, think I've ever seen four cousins closer.
5 & 4

Photo removed per request of my mother.

These must be Christmas hugs, as I spy a stocking on the chair in the corner. Damien, this was during your dinosaur days, and Dyl would tell you, "You got such a flat head, flat head." I still know the words to "Friends for Dinner," but I am glad that Chomper has grown up into a nice young man. Dyl, this was right before your ear surgery. I guess I should have known that you were deaf at the time, and I'm really sorry that I didn't. I just thought you mispronounced everything. The doctor said that it is a good thing that you gradually went deaf, so you did have fairly good language acquisition before you lost your hearing all together. I remember the day you told your teacher that your daddy was a trucker with an f instead of a tr. You figured it out pretty fast, though, after the surgery. 
6 & 5

You guys used to always hug each other when I would photograph you. You were 6 & 5 here. Do you remember that year when we went to Galveston to see Nana & PawPaw? If you look really close, they're in the background.

Photo removed per request of my mother.

Awww... I'm choked up over this one. Do you remember all of the trips we made to Grandma's house. Damien, I never saw a child bring such a smile to Walter's face the way you could. You are an absolutely amazing boy. Dyl, Grandma is who we get our sense of humor from. She always loved having you guys around. 
7 & 6

Photo removed per request of my mother.

Again, in Galveston, and still loving brothers. You guys have always been there for each other. Dyl, it was so funny because Damien did not let go of you for this picture. Those big waves behind you rolled in, and you ended up under the water. You put mud in Damien's shorts for getting you "all dunk-ed." 
7 & 6

Goofy as usual. Every time I tried to get a good picture, you guys always make goofy faces. We were getting ready to go to Dylan's soccer game this day. Go Geckos! 
8 & 7

Sweet brothers on Christmas. I think the only reason why you were being sweet is because you knew that Santa was coming to bring more presents, and candy. Heaven forbid there be no candy. Do you remember this year, Dylan? You collected rocks, and Santa gave you rock candy, and chocolates that looked like gravel and pebbles, as well as a bag of real stones. You were upset to start with until you realized that the rock candy and chocolates were actually candy. 
8 & 7

This is the year that we bought Grandma Krackers the tiara for her birthday. You two were so excited to get to dote on her for the day. She let you wear the hat she was sent for her birthday. It was always so much fun to spend our St. Patty's day with Grandma and you two. 
9 & 8

Gosh, it does not seem that long ago since we took these pictures at the park. I'm not even sure that you guys would fit on that slide anymore. 
9 & 8

You guys are a couple of little nuts at times... well most of the time....
10 & 9

I don't think this one is a brotherly hug.
11 & 10

Dylan is giving the big hug this time. Damien, you just would not look up. I think, though, that Dyl was actually trying to pull you down. 
12 & 11

Faces, faces, faces ~ Damien, this was the day you learned to cross your eyes. You made me laugh so hard that day. Needless to say, Dyl's always has some funny look on his face when I tried to photograph him. 
13 & 12

Killer had so much fun going to the park with you guys. You both insisted taking him down the slide or sending him down where the other one was waiting. 
13 & 12

Dylan, you know, you have always been the biggest supporter and advocate for Damien. That's why he loves you. And, I am truly blessed to have such wonderful children. 
~ Autism Walk ~ 13 & 12

You guys are really sweet, you know, when you want to be.
13 & 12

You two have always stuck together through thick and thin, and all of those awful allergy shots. I don't think you look very enthused. 
13 & 12

Do you guys remember the "Brown Family Curse" on this Christmas Eve? Uggghhh... bad, day, but now I look back in laugh. I laugh because I know how blessed we are that none of us were hurt when the car went in the ditch; and we all made it home safely. 
14 & 13

Dyl, your just the best.... This picture really shows how you guys really were at the time.
14 & 13

Spring Break in Galveston... whoo-hoo.... Allyssa would kill me if she saw this one.
14 & 13

Photo removed per request of my mother.

Dyl, you finally started outgrowing your brother. Damien, I told you he would. We had a really good time during that Spring Break trip with Gator Country. 
14 & 13

I laugh every time that I see this picture. Dyl, you were pushing your brother's nose so hard, and I could barely to get him to touch yours. I had so much fun making this video with you guys for school, and you were such good sports. 
14 & 13

I am truly honored that I got to celebrate this day with you. I could never made it through school without your patience and cooperation. You are the best young men that a mom could have. I truly love you. 
14 & 13

It's good to know that you guys never feel too old to play with bubbles. Yeah, you take after your mom. 
15 & 14

This is the day that we took lots of pictures in Santa Anna, and it's also the day that we realized that the GPS put us in Lake Brownwood when we were eating at Wendy's. I love you boys. 
15 & 14

I know that this day was just as hard for me as it was for me. It was the last time that we were at Grandma's house before David and she moved. I know you miss them both terribly, but you have been wonderful grandchildren and nephews to them. They always look forward to you calling them. 
15 & 14

Too sweet. My boys really love their great-grandma.
15 & 14

Photo removed per request of my mother.

What a day we had this day. You guys had to go to the orthodontist in Brownwood. You guys were trying on all of those goofy Halloween costumes, and Damien ate a huge pile of pizza at CiCi's. I had asked you guys to smile for me, but neither one of you would show me your braces. 
15 & 14

Genuine and Dylan on the ferry in Galveston ~ Poor Dylan, you were so sick.
16 & 15

Dyl, you still get very excited around Christmas time. Damien, your hair! ... just saying...
16 & 15

My gentlemen are all dressed up in their 'suits.' Damien was really excited to get his suit from Goodwill. He said, "Momma, my teacher told me to check Goodwill for good suits because lawyers die all the time." 
16 & 15

I would say that I am sorry that I made you take the picture with the creepy zombie guy, but I'm not.
16 & 15

I think this trip was the best one that we all have had thus far. It was nice to see everyone so happy and getting along. You guys are my world, and I would be lost without you. 
16 & 15

I absolutely love the fact that neither of you are afraid to act goofy in public. You guys always can make me smile even when I get really sad. Just being around you makes me so happy. 
16 & 15

Overall, I can say that I think you would be really sad, Dyl, if your brother wasn't around.

Damien, I know you would be sad too.

So, keep close with one another no matter what.
16 & 15

I still cannot believe that you two are 17 & 16 today. It just seems like it was yesterday when you were brought into our lives.