Liebster Award

liebster-award

I would like to thank Hannah at To Knit or Knot for nominating me for the Liebster Award!

11 Questions. 11 Answers. Here are the questions for her nominees:

1. Do you have a favorite day of the week?

That would have to be Wednesday. For a couple years now, I have spent Wednesdays working from home. It’s the best way I have ever found to break-up the week. As a self-motivated introvert, I was so happy when my manager agreed. I get a lot more done from home without the interruption of people stopping by to see me throughout the day.

2. What is your favorite food?

I eat Mexican food most often, but if I had the money I would eat sushi all the time!

3. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I’ve always been a night owl.

4. How did you decide on the name of your blog?

Semper Fidelis is Latin for “Always Faithful.” I wrote a post about it a couple months ago called Faith and Silence if you’d like to read the full story.

5. What is your favorite memory?

My first day at Washington State University. I very rarely take “selfies,” but I did that day. I stopped by the restroom on my way to my first class and caught sight of myself in a full-length mirror. In jeans and a t-shirt, I was radiant. I survived the darkest time of my life that year and I was moving on. I was embracing a new life. I was transformed. I’ve never felt more pride and compassion for myself as I did in that moment.

6. Would you rather listen to a song that you intensely loathe 10 times, or a song that you love all day?

I don’t mind listening to songs I like over and over again. I’d rather listen to a song I love all day. I don’t think there’s much risk I would grow tired of it.

7. Who is your best friend?

I have a few very close, dear friends, but I’ve known Christen the longest. I met her in 1992, the third grade. We’ve had many common interest over the years, but one I never would guessed we would share is that we are both raising children that are not our own. I have grown more profoundly grateful for her than ever these past two years. Being able to relate to someone about the struggles and triumphs of fostering children is a gift. The memories and trust we’ve developed over the 23 years we’ve known each other is a comfort beyond any words I can express.

8. Roses or Daisies?

I like a bouquet of roses as much as anyone, but in general I like expressions of love to be more permanent, which is why I usually dry them if I receive them. Daisies are happy little flowers, but I don’t mind that they fade. It isn’t as depressing to watch as a fading rose. I’d choose daisies if I had to.

9. What are three things that fill in the blank for you- “I love….”?

1) I love my husband. I would say I’m sorry for being so obvious, but I’m not sorry. He is my match, my soul… he is everything I never hoped to wish for. 2) I love my sister. She is the most kind, forgiving, joyful soul I have ever known.  3) I love my home. Last April we moved into the first house I’ve ever rented as an adult. We looked for months and I would have happily moved to several of the places we saw, but Spike always had something better in mind. We actually signed the lease on this house before I even saw the inside. He was sold on it, so I rightly assumed I would love it too. It was a risk, but I never felt like it was.

10. When is your favorite time of year?

Spring is my favorite time of year. Everything is green and it’s not too hot and it doesn’t get dark before I’m off work.

11. If you had to live on an island with only one food, what would that food be?

If it were earlier in the evening I would do some research on the food that provides the most well-rounded nutritional values. That’s my choice, intellectually, I would want the one food that would keep me the most healthy. Psychologically though, I would probably want the food that brought me the most comfort.

My Liebster Award Nominations:

Dizzy With Feet Planted

Wild Warrior Princess Mommy

Writing Through Tears

Life of a Journaler

My 11 Questions for the Nominees:

  1. Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?
  2. If you could do anything you wanted right now, what would it be?
  3. If money was no object, what would you do all day?
  4. Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
  5. What is your favorite book?
  6. What is your biggest success up until now?
  7. What does your perfect day look like?
  8. What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isn’t already?
  9. If you were to create a piece of art, what would the subject be?
  10. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
  11. How would your friends describe you?

I look forward to reading your answers!

Liebster Award Rules

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions that they set.
  3. Nominate others with less than 200 followers.
  4. Let them know about the nomination and the questions.

Cannot Quit

2015-03-23_1618

No, that’s not helpful. In what way could that be helpful? Seriously, Microsoft, these messages blow my mind sometimes.

I’ve been working on a project for over a year now and the data is too much for Excel to handle. It keeps crashing. I should just throw it all in Access, but I feel like Excel should be able to keep up. It’s only 2200 records!

A New Romance

I finished The Scarlet Thread yesterday. Spike came in while I was on the last few pages. “You don’t look like you love that book,” he smiled. I didn’t realize I was actually scowling. “It’s high fructose corn syrup Christianity,” I said, surprised at my own precisely accurate description. “It’s sickeningly sweet. And fake.”

I’ve already ranted about my issues with this book, but I can’t leave it alone. It isn’t in me to complain about the way things are without offering a solution.

I love classic romances. Wuthering Heights was actually the first novel I ever read, and I was hooked. I read a lot of Jannette Oke books when I was in junior high and high school too. I wonder if I would still love them, or if I would sense the same HFCS Christianity overtones now. Of course my romance reading had a heaping side helping of Disney princess movies. My mother was once warned not to let me watch Sleeping Beauty so much because it would warp my sense of true love. Luckily for me it came from her mother-in-law, whose advice she never took, so I continued to dress up and lie on top of my toy box, waiting for Prince Phillip. (He never came of course, but I loved to pretend.)

I’m still drawn to romances as an adult, but more in the form of TV shows and movies. Downton Abbey is my most recent favorite. It’s the perfect mix of romance and my other favorite genre: historical fiction. I’ve watched every movie and TV series I can get my hands on that’s based on a Jane Austen novel.

Is there a way to present romance that doesn’t send people screaming or set their eyes rolling? Could I write a better romance? I’m fairly certain I’m at least living a better romance than the one I just read, so that’s a start. I could tell my story. It’s full of heartache and tears and miracles. Would anyone read it? I know I would, which is really the most important part of writing anyway. I would have a lot of help from that bookshelf full of journals.

Culinary Ownership


I’ve had it pretty good the last few years. During our pre-marital counseling, Spike agreed to do all the grocery shopping and all the cooking. Nice, right? In exchange, I agreed to do all the cleaning and bookkeeping. It’s been a dream arrangement. I hate hated the grocery store and I can’t couldn’t stand cooking. The frustration of not being able to find things in the grocery store – no more. The hangry cleaning of the kitchen after work so I can cook dinner – never again!

I am grateful for the blessings of this arrangement. It’s worked seamlessly for many years now. My husband and I have lived up to our agreements. We’ve [actually] never fought over who should do the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery shopping, or the bookkeeping. We haven’t suffered any undercutting comments from each other about the lack of upkeep. We have been blissfully, happily married.

The unforeseen consequence of this arrangement is that I have completely relinquished all responsibility for what I consume. If Spike doesn’t cook, we eat out. I don’t care what I eat. I’m entitled to my mashed potatoes. I deserve my brownies. I needs the cheesy garlic breads. When your serotonin is at a level to barely keep you functional, carbohydrates are the savior you clamor for.

But I am happily changed, and I have taken ownership of what I consume. I am more aware of what I eat. I am selective. I have [some] self-control. And I want to cook. God help me. I want to cook.

Spike started school in January. Since then our meals have taken an understandable hit. We’ve eaten out a lot more often. Although I’ve gotten better about the food I order when I go out, it still isn’t great. Although my serotonin-boosting “brain pills” (as I call them) are helping, I still need some help in eating healthy.

I discovered emeals.com many years ago. Seriously, for five dollars a month, I don’t know why everyone and their mother isn’t subscribed to this site. It offers a wide range of meal plans as PDFs that come out every week (which I saved when I was subscribed to the site). It gives you recipes and a shopping list for a week’s worth of meals. For all the planning and brain power it saves, I don’t know how I would manage to takeover meal planning without it.

This morning I went to the grocery store for the first time in [actual] years. I spent two hours making sure everything on my list was carefully selected. I purchased and bagged my items and I brought home my kill with all the pride of a successful hunter.

I prepped a spicy beef flank steak this afternoon (which Spike grilled this evening) and a side of radish slaw. We “beefed up” the slaw with some fresh Red Russian Kale, arugula, mache, and curly endive clippings from Spike’s aquaponics garden. It was delicious. The steak was more spicy than I expected, but it was still fantastic!

emeals.com
emeals.com
Also, I might be cartoon-drunk now [read: literally hiccuping and drunk] from celebrating my success. We bought a growler of award-winning, amazing beer on our wine road trip, and I may or may not have tried to finish it off single-handedly after the girls went to bed. Single… glassedly? I don’t know. Hope you enjoyed this. Mrs. Spike needs her bed now.

Three Gold Stars

I had an amazing appointment with my naturopath yesterday. Let’s start off with the fact that he gave me a homeopathic remedy for my allergies that blew my socks off (or my nose out? that’s gross). He gave me the little bottle at the beginning of the appointment. My ears were itching, throat was raspy, and eyes were watering. A dropper-full of that formula and half-way through the appointment, I felt 90% better! He said continued use will make even more effective. Signed up for that!

After talking about the life changes I’ve experienced over the last few months he said he was going to do something he’s only done a handful of times in the last ten years of his practice.

He gave me three gold stars.

Three Gold Stars  |  Earned March 20, 2015
Three Gold Stars | Earned March 20, 2015

It sounds like a ridiculous, juvenile reward, but he was so proud to give them to me! I was just as proud to receive them.

The first star was for the fact that I admitted to needing help. I didn’t accept that clinical depression was simply my lot in life, as it is in my lives of my family members, and I should just get used to the idea. I didn’t throw in the towel and continue to watch myself slide deeper into depression and malnutrition and obesity.

The second star was for recognizing the unforgiveness in my life and not brushing it off as something that didn’t affect me. He said many Christians may see that forgiveness is needed, but they only pay it lip service. “I’m saved. I’ve forgiven. It’s done,” but when they’re in the same room with the person they “forgave” or they hear their voice, their physical reaction gives away their insincerity. Their hearts pound, their eyes narrow, their chests tense. They may have spoken the “magic words,” but their spirit is still starving for forgiveness, and their body is paying the price.

The third gold star was for taking steps to alter the course of my life. Three months ago I had barely enough weepy motivation to get through the day. Today I’m waiting on an acceptance letter to a university to finish my bachelor’s degree, I have a hearing date to gain Legal Guardianship of my goddaughters, I’m on the warpath to make a career move, and I’ve naturally stopped overeating (which, I don’t think I’ve mentioned before).

My heart sings more sincerely. I am transformed. I am mighty.

Three gold stars, justly won.

I stand quietly

This is wonderful!

Dirty, Naked & Happy

I stand quietly while you do somersaults on the bed as you aren’t being naughty, you are just trying to get your out of sync body under control.

I stand quietly by the toilet door every time you need to go, and come with you around the house, and sometimes even just across the room, because I know you can feel truly frightened when you are not near me.

I stand quietly at the supermarket checkout while everyone stares at you barking like a dog and blowing raspberries on my arms to cope with the buzzing lights.

I stand quietly while you tell the baffled shop owner that you are looking for shoes that feel hard like splintered wood because your skin can’t bear soft things.

I stand quietly when the attendant gives us scornful looks when I ask for the key to the disabled toilet because the hand dryer…

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Idiot Frankenstein

So I’m in a bad mood lately. You know when someone quits their job but keeps showing up? That’s how I’m feeling this week. I’ve had too many knock-downs to have any motivation or inspiration to continue to do my job well. I’m operating on bare-minimum effort, which honestly makes me ill. It’s not who I am, but it seems to be how my company prefers their employees to be: sedated by frustration to the point of pure apathy. What the hell am I doing there? It’s sucking my soul dry.

Not always. After four years, though, you would think my days of pulling teeth to push an inspiring notion would be over. You would think they would just go with it!

Young Frankenstein (1974)

I feel like Dr. Frankenstein, electrifying a corpse and then, like an idiot, believing it’s alive! But the damn thing keeps dying and my resources are burnt-out and all I have to show for my efforts is the smell of fried, putrefied flesh.

That was graphic. I guess I finally have an accurate description of how I feel about corporate America.

Blogging Space

Annotated Home Space
Annotated Blog Space

I was clicking around tonight and found this lovely blog with a nifty idea to describe the space I use to do all my bloggy things. My space is not nearly as adorable as Abbie’s. In fact, it’s pretty sparse, but it’s me.

The desk came free after a recent office move. I thought Spike was going to disown me when I won the drawing and asked him to pick it up. “How big is it!?”

“It’s only six-by-four [feet]. It’ll fit in the living room.”

We literally had to donate one of our [three, old, busted] couches, but it fits quite nicely now! And our older goddaughter inherited my old desk, which she needed, so really everyone won. Except Spike. I’m pretty sure he still holds a grudge against this desk. It’s solid oak and probably weighs 500 pounds. It’s a miracle it didn’t crush him and our neighbor when they moved it into the house.

We don’t have a TV or game console. The four of us just have our computers for doing work, school, TV shows, movies etc. Spike’s computer has a larger monitor we gather around if we’re going to watch a movie together. My desk is, by far, the biggest though. I would feel bad… but I don’t. I work from home one day a week, so I justify it but saying it makes us money. I’m not wrong.

Now I’m curious. What does your space look like?

Women, Respect Your Men

I didn’t mean for this to get so out of hand, but apparently I have an opinion about this.


 

I woke up, wide-awake, at 6:00 this morning. I made some coffee and cleaned the kitchen. Spike came out and joined me at about 6:30. He usually gets up about that time, but he doesn’t usually speak. I don’t either, but I was somewhat chatty this morning, talking about the book my friends and I are reading: The Scarlet Thread. I like Francine Rivers, especially Redeeming Love, but I’m having a hard time with this one. It’s 300 pages of terrible marriage followed by 75 pages of all you need is Jesus. I’m not knocking the power of Christ, but really? The heroine has a revelation that she’s been a bitch and her marriage gets to go back to normal after all the horrifying things she slung at him for three years? I don’t buy it. I guess that’s why it’s a romance: a completely unrealistic portrayal of real life.

If I sound pessimistic, I am. Marriage might be able to recover from that kind of communication breakdown. Anything is possible, but I’m passed the point of encouraging anyone to think they will be the exception to the rule. You cannot disrespect your husband and expect to stay happily married. You cannot dump on his dreams and his goals and his vision and his desire to provide and protect and expect him to lovingly wrap you in his arms. You can have one or the other. Your husband is not a robot. He hears the shit you say and he isn’t likely to forget it!

I am speaking from a position of judgment and observation and also from first-hand experience. I don’t speak in absolutes very often, but I am absolutely convinced of this. The moment a wife turns down a path of disrespect for her husband, it marks the start of her journey toward divorce. Sometimes the loss of respect is warranted, but if she cannot regain it, the marriage is doomed.

If you haven’t read Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, I would highly recommend you do before you even think about marriage, especially if you’re a woman. Our culture trains boys to love their mothers and their girlfriends and their wives. It puts the pressure on them to buy flowers and sign greeting cards and be sappy in order to let women know they’re loved. But the other side of that equation is what the man gets out of it. Men want to be loved, of course, but never as much as they need to be respected. A man needs to know he’s respected more than anything, and our culture does a piss-poor job at showing women how to do that.

The traditional father figure in Modern Family is a joke. The guy that tried to stay married and have kids in Friends is a joke. Women who manipulate and condescend and judge and harp are heroes in the media! Voicing your opinion and putting a man in his place is heralded as a sign of a strong and independent woman – but she is not likely to make a relationship last.

Hear my heart, women – you probably don’t have any idea what kind of damage you’re doing. Until reading this, you have been innocent and oblivious of your crimes against men. But I have to say it, because our men never will. The don’t dare. The moment they say they need respect we will nail them to the wall as chauvinist pigs. They know we will, so they suffer in silence. They absorb every emasculating comment and tone and spirit because they love us. God help them, they love us! Do your part, and respect them! If you do not or cannot respect them, for God’s sake, don’t marry them in the first place.

[End ranting and raving.]

60 Days

Someday my pain by Helen-Carter | DeviantArt.com

I woke up at 4:00 this morning with the most wretched pain in the middle of my torso. I was having trouble breathing it hurt so much. I didn’t know if I was having a panic attack, a heart attack, or some crazy bout with indigestion. Lying down made it worse, so I went with indigestion and didn’t call for an ambulance. God it hurt though. I broke out in a cold sweat twice. My neck and back were locked-up in pain. It took effort to calm my breathing and drink some water, but eventually the pain subsided. I emailed work and told them I was calling out for the day though. There was no way was I going to power through the workday with that kind of night behind me. I was afraid to lie down though, so I pulled my nightstand close to the bed and slept slouched over it for a couple hours.

I guess that’s what I get for taking a dose of one of those pain killers I was prescribed after my dental work on Friday. My mouth was throbbing last night, so I took one – ONE – The only one I’ve taken since Friday. I probably would have gone to the ER this morning, except that this has happened before. The last time I took pain killers I nearly blacked-out at work. Spike came and took me to the hospital. We thought I was having some kind of allergic reaction, but it was just dehydration and hyperventilation. My blood pressure is pretty low as a rule, so apparently if I add dehydration and narcotics to that, I’m a bit of a pansy and can’t do things like breathe real well and stand upright. Awesome.

Spike was really sweet this morning though. He stayed up with me and rubbed my back and made sure I was okay. He took the girls to school and let me sleep. He checked in with me periodically throughout the day too. I think it freaks out most husbands to see their wives in pain. Not being able to do anything about it must be debilitating. It’s no picnic for wives either. Staring into the puppy dog eyes of your husband when your body is hurting gives you a terrible heartache on top of it all.

I slept until almost 11:00 after waking up a few times from my arms and legs alternating between falling asleep and being rearranged in my slouched-over position. I stayed fuzzy through most of the day, maybe from the dose of narcotics, maybe from lack of coffee, but I took advantage of the sick day – a free weekday – and got some paperwork filed with the court. We’ll have our Legal Guardianship hearing for the girls in 60 days. Events from this past weekend have made the step necessary. We’ve been talking about it for a long time, but we didn’t want to rock the boat with the girls’ family. But boat-rocking be damned, it’s time. It’ll be two years in July since they came to live with us, and with both their parents living out of state, the girls simply don’t have the legal protection they need from the private custody agreement we have with their mom.

Their dad isn’t going to make it easy though. He’s made that very plain. This morning could have been a panic attack just from the possibility of facing him in court. He can’t win, but he can make our lives hell in the process. My vehement prayer is that he simply won’t show up, that he will fold and walk away like he always has and will leave us all in peace. I hesitate to write any of this because I know everyone has their own idea about legal proceedings and child custody battles and parental rights, and I’m not going to defend our case here. Don’t be surprised if I delete your discouraging remarks. [This is not an equal-opportunity-to-take-a-shot-at-me blog.]

Those who believe in me, please pray for us. It’s going to be a very long 60 days, and it may be longer still. I need my body and my mind and my emotions to hold up under the pressure. I’m finding it hard to have courage. I’m afraid of failing this process. I have no reason to be afraid. Our case is solid, but where children’s lives are at stake, there will always a mother-bear raging fear that will blindly tear anyone apart that dares to threaten them.