Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

I've always had a love-hate relationship with New Year's Eve. Yes, it is a time to celebrate, a time to gather with loved ones and reminisce, a time to set goals for the next year and dream about tomorrows...But it's never been all that in my life.

First of all, New Year's Eve always seemed like the perfect opportunity for my inner demon to point out all my failures of the past year. I would spend the whole week between Christmas and New Year's lamenting all the things I did NOT accomplish.

Second of all, New Year's Eve was my ex-husband's birthday, so for seven years, I was actually not allowed to even really celebrate New Year's. He had such a ridiculous complex about "sharing" his birthday with a holiday, that any mention of it at any point prior to midnight was met with a temper tantrum.

Third of all, since I have been with Chris, we have always had Brytin on New Year's Eve. Not necessarily because we wanted to share the holiday with him, but because we wanted him to be safe...

So here it is, the end of 2009. I'm fighting the urge to consider all the things that went wrong this year. Truthfully, looking back on it, 2009 was a remarkable year, but there were some horrible moments.

As my witty friend Susan said, "thanks to you--2009!--for all of the beautiful lessons, infinite blessings and sweet surprises you brought to me. (By the way: you can also suck it for the crappy parts, 2009...I mean really.)"

In Feb 2009, Brytin came to live with us.
In March we bought our motorcycles.
In May, I lost my job and became a full-time parent.
In August, Brytin started Kinder, and we lost Emma.
In November, I turned 31, we had our first overnighter, and we celebrated 2 years of marriage. I made my first ever Thanksgiving dinner and we hosted a super fun party.
This month, Brytin turned 5, my mom almost died, and Chris got used to working in Supply again (under a new Chief).
In 2009, Brytin started learning how to read, Chris fell in love with me, and I started getting healthy. I'd say, 2009 was a rebuilding year. A successful one.

And tonight? Well, tonight, my husband is taking me out :) Brytin will be at his mother's. Chris and I will be going to dinner and then on a yacht cruise on the San Diego Bay.

We will also be with his group of friends - James, Ko, Fox, Fox's bro and Eli. Only one missing is Martin :( This group of guys have been around the entire year. They are a good group, a fun group, and a safe group. I am glad my husband met them, glad he chose them as his friends, glad we will be ringing in 2010 with them.

2010 shows hope for being amazing. The first week, we have two events scheduled that are pretty big and will shape the whole year.

Another gem from Susan:
I am the New Year.
I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living.
I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life in the last twelve months.
All that you sought and didn't find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search for it again and with more determination.
All the good that you tried for and didn't achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn't dare to do; all that you hoped but did not will; all the faith you claimed but did not have~ these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakend by the touch of a strong purpose.
It is never too late to be the person you always dreamed you would be.

Happy New Year to you! Be safe, be merry and be loved!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I am not a great photographer (especially while driving), but there was a really cool sunset in San Diego yesterday that I tried taking pictures of. After the pictures I took, the whole sky turned red, the mountains blushed pink and I smiled big. I love the beauty of sunsets (much more than sunrise).

Monday, December 28, 2009

In the Past

Passed is the past tense form of the verb to pass:

to pass: transitive verb meaning “to go beyond a point or place”
The principal parts are pass, passed, (have) passed, passing
Examples: I pass my evenings alone. Please pass the potatoes.
I am passing my days in the garden. I am passing all my courses in college.
The truck passed the house. His uncle passed away. I have passed my driving test. Charlie has passed out the papers. The cat had passed beyond the fence before we noticed she was out.

The word past can be used as more than one part of speech, but never as a verb.

past: noun meaning “that which has happened in past time.”
Ex. That’s all in the past. It’s usually preceded by the word “the.”

past: adjective meaning “gone by in time; elapsed.”
Ex. I haven’t seen him for the past month.

past: adverb meaning “beyond.” Usually the point of reference is supplied by the context.
Ex. I cowered as the bullets whizzed past.
past: preposition meaning “beyond.” It differs from an adverb because it is followed by an object.
Ex. The bullet whizzed past my head.

Two more handy tips:
The only verb that belongs in front of passed is some form of have:The days have passed quickly.
He had passed his exams before his father lost his job.
The horse has passed the finish line.

If the verb is is, don’t use passed:
For, lo, the winter is past.

Daily Writing Tips

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ramblings of My Love

I appreciate that you will eat anything I cook - no matter how dry, how bland or how awful.

I get weak in the knees every time I see you with a shaved head.

Seeing how much you love your motorcycle inspires me to ride mine more.


I love it that no one can give you a massage as good as me.

You are a living example of Jesus; you show me every day how to be graceful, merciful, patient, kind, fair and forgiving.

Thank you for introducing me to Ruth Mayer.

I appreciate your candor regarding your childhood.

I am sorry Johnny Redcorn got in between us and the Grand Canyon ;)

There is nothing in this world sexier than you on your motorcycle.

I am so glad we mostly enjoy the same TV shows.

I love you for letting me play Sudoku every day.

I cherish our home.

I think it's cute that you HATE David Beckham ;)

I love the smell of cocoa butter in the morning.

I live for our conversations.

I will always remember the day I met your son.

I love it that you buy me Betty Boop stuff. (Just PLEASE don't over do it!)

Your robe is the most comfortable piece of clothing in our house.

There is joy in knowing that my parents adore you.

I will never forget when you ran with me.

I love meeting your needs before you express them - even better if I can do it before you even realize it's a need.

I am glad you showed me around Duarte.

I will always remember our first night (and morning) together.

I am so thankful for Joey's loyalty to you.

Your lips are soft.

I LOVE (and miss) long car rides with you.

I love it that I can see in your eyes when you are smiling - even if your mouth is in a straight line.

I will always remember San Francisco.

Thank you for making me a cup of coffee so many mornings!

It is my joy and my honor to be so greatly entrusted with your only heir.

I feel safe whenever you are close enough to touch me.

I adore you, Christopher David Broussard. Thank you for making Christmas 2009 so magical.

1/1/10 I will ALWAYS remember that you RAN to kiss me at midnight!!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Favoritest Christmas

I always remember people saying Christmas is different with kids. I never had a chance to test that theory until this year, and let me tell you, it is the truest story I have ever heard. This Christmas season has been magical, wonderful, fun and priceless.

Since Brytin is older, and he is in Kindergarten this year, he has learned all the traditional Christmas carols, he is interested in the Christmas stories, and he LOVES doing anything that has anything to do with Christmas. We’ve colored pictures, we’ve made ornaments, we’ve decorated the inside and outside of the house, we made a foam house (instead of a gingerbread house), we have looked at other houses that are decorated…it’s been a month I will always remember.

Making it even more special is that my husband has actually been involved also. He even sent me flowers! We got a real tree. We decorated it with lights, bulb ornaments and all the special ornaments from my childhood that I have. I bought Chris and Brytin a special ornament, I bought Brytin a nutcracker ornament, too. And then Chris went out and bought me a set of Betty Boop ornaments.

We also put up a 4 foot artificial tree in Brytin’s room and decorated it. We hung garland and twinkle lights outside. And I also bought mistletoe that has added an extra special element to the holiday season – Brytin will randomly go underneath it and then yell to me, “Leslie! I’m under the mistletoe!” And I will run from wherever I am at in the house to give him a kiss. My little BooBoo is so darn awesome!

Tonight we are going to make chocolate chip cookies for Santa and we’re also going to make a gingerbread cookie Christmas tree. Tomorrow morning Brytin will (hopefully) find some gifts from Santa and a stocking full of surprises. We’ve also kept all his presents from us hidden, so he will be pleasantly surprised to see just how many presents there are for him.

Tomorrow night, Brytin will be with his mother, celebrating Christmas all over again. He is definitely a blessed little boy!

Tomorrow night, Chris and I will be hosting dinner for some of his co-workers that are not traveling this Christmas to be with their families. We’ll be enjoying a glazed ham, mashed potatoes, au gratin potatoes, glazed carrots, deviled eggs and brownies. It should be a very nice evening.

Then Saturday, we will be having a gathering for our friends. I managed to convince everyone to bring a regift/gag gift/cheap gift for a white elephant dice game. I’ll be serving ham sandwiches, au gratin potatoes, any leftovers from Friday, and Velveeta cheese dip.

The last decade or so of Christmases haven’t really been anything spectacular. This Christmas, however, with my mother home and almost healthy, my husband and stepson happy, and my house all decorated, I can’t help but understand what Christmas is all about.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Effective Communication

I wrote a blog recently about the fact that humans are frustrating. My biggest complaint is closed-minded people who refuse to respectfully dialogue.

I have recently had run-ins with people who were very unwilling to listen. Every time I shared my perspective, they closed their ears and focused on what they were going to say next. No matter what approach I took, no matter how much common ground I pointed out, no matter what I said, these closed-minded individuals did nothing but hurl insults, stonewall and repeat their same points over and over. In the end, I had to just accept that ignorance cannot be changed and chose to walk away.

It is very disappointing to have such a negative end result. The older I get, the more willing I am to listen. The more experienced I am, the more willing I am to learn from others’ experiences. The more I learn about the human condition, the more I realize how much I really do not know.

It is frustrating to me that it is impossible to explain to a know-it-all that s/he really does not know shit. It makes me sad that it is impossible to help a close-minded individual see how asinine their communication skills are. It is also frustrating that idiocy cannot be battled with logic.

As though my blog was a prayer from my lips to God’s ears, I think I have found the “cure” for other peoples’ inability to respectfully communicate. Not that I expect any of the people who bug me to actually read this, but I have at least found a solution to offer them when I have hit a brick wall.

I have been reading a very insightful book called "How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking about it,” by Pat Love and Steve Stosny. Though the book often references marriage when discussing the communication break-downs it claims to solve, all of the information is applicable to most relationships.

As I have said before in my other articles discussing this book, the background information about how males and females communicate and the principles for how to effectively dialogue in a respectful and productive manner are applicable in every conversation we have.

Each day, you might communicate with a family member, a friend, a significant other, a co-worker and/or one of your children.

Understanding where their perspectives originate from can greatly improve your ability to communicate effectively. (For more information, see How to Improve Your Communication WITHOUT Talking.)

Developing compassion for their perspective will help you to create an atmosphere that encourages productive dialogue.

Conducting yourself in a manner that is true to your values can only serve to improve your self-value and result in a willingness to value other people, too.

Developing the skill of “binocular vision” will give you an intuitive sense of how to improve your relationship without talking about it. (To learn about binocular vision, see "Effective Communication Requires Binocular Vision.")

Understanding communication and practicing the strategies offered in this book will (hopefully) encourage your co-communicator to act in kind.

Related blogs you may find interesting:
Feb 5 2007
Sept 6 2007
Apr 24 2008

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From Our Home to Yours

Merry Merry Merry Christmas!

I pray your holiday is filled with peace, joy and love.

I pray 2010 is the greatest year of your life.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Elitest vs. Racist

I stumbled upon this article that sort of relates to yesterday’s post, Diplomacy. Unfortunately, the full article from the Huffington Post that is being quoted has been taken down.

Based on the comments the articles have received, it appears that comparing Obama and Tiger as 'Fallen Black Role Models' makes one racist...I always knew I had an elitest mentality, but I never knew myself to be racist. I must be, though, because I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Lisa Warren in the few paragraphs of her article that I was able to read.

I maybe would not have gone so far as to say that Mr. Obama has fallen as a role model. He is after all, the first minority President of the United States, and that is definitely something to look up to.

But I DID say in my blog posting yesterday that Obama's arrogance has partially caused things to not go his way. That is the same as Lisa Warren states, "toppled by their hubris."

I also agree that when a black role model stumbles, it is extra heart-breaking. I would accept if you called that mentality "elitest," because it could possibly come across like I pity the black Americans that do not have a decent role model...Even though that is not necessarily my intent, I can see how it would come across that way. Is that really racist?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Barack Obama had great words, great ideas, great plans...

I believed in the possibility that a young black man could produce change. I liked the idea of America once again being revered throughout the world as an amazing place, because we are.

I know that Mr. Obama has only been in office less than a year, and that the first argument his supporters will make is that "it takes more than one year to fix eight years of damage." But really, I now think that that argument is mostly just smoke and mirrors.

It is not so much that I want him to fail. I'm not looking to say, "Nah Nah Nah Nah Boo Boo." I just hope that recent events have been a humbling experience for him. His approval rating is below 50 percent, China's President was offended by something he said and thusly refused to meet with him regarding climate change, Jewish Americans think he hates them, and his recent trip to Asia did NOT go as planned.

I was doe-eyed for change just like the majority of Americans. I believed his excellent speeches, too. I believed in the possibility that a change in the Administration's mentality could potentially improve our relations around the world.

I just hope that Mr. Obama can recognize that his arrogance, his incessant belief that he understands how foreign diplomats think, and his distaste for anything but "diplomacy" is what got him to where he is today.

If the Foreign Diplomats solely hated America because they hated W, then they would be clamoring to meet with Obama. That is not the case. They hate us for far more than who our President is. They hate us for our arrogance and our ignorance. Until THAT changes, there is no hope for a world without wars for power.

Want to read other articles I have written about politics? See here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Answered Prayers

There are some things I do not write about on my blog. I know that may be surprising, considering the amount of very personal information that is on here, but a blog is not meant to be a diary. I do not write about all marriage issues, or all step-parenting issues, any financial issues, and I actually leave out a lot of family stuff...

The purpose of this particular blog is for you to read my writing. (I have another blog about motorcycling, one about my stepson and another about Scripture.)

Mostly, I write about lessons I have learned. I enjoy getting into the nitty gritty of experiences I have had to better understand my reaction, the human condition, and how to become a better person.

Well, this week, I have definitely learned a lot.

Most importantly, I learned that God is big enough to answer two very critical prayers regarding two different subjects on the SAME day!

I also learned that my husband will always take care of me when he is given the opportunity.

I realized that Brytin is truly the most amazingly beautifully awesome stepson I could have ever asked for.

And finally, I learned that cranberry sauce on a pork roast is VERY tasty :)

I hope you learn something today!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

English is a funny language


Peruse originally meant to read in great detail.

Somehow, people starting using it to mean to review in a cursory manner.

Now, the definition is both (even though they blatantly contradict). If you use the word, and/or if someone uses the word in directions for you, be sure the meaning is clear!

Main Entry: pe·ruse
Pronunciation: \pə-ˈrüz\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): pe·rused; pe·rus·ing
Etymology: Middle English, to use up, deal with in sequence, from Latin per- thoroughly + Middle English usen to use
Date: 1532
1 a : to examine or consider with attention and in detail : study b : to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner
2 : read; especially : to read over in an attentive or leisurely manner

— pe·rus·al \-ˈrü-zəl\ noun

— pe·rus·er noun

Thanks to for the heads up!

Another great article I read today is all about buzzwords of 2009.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finally! Some Good News!!!

Mom was able to eat chicken broth, Jello, applesauce and sherbet yesterday!!!!!!!

It was a long road to get here, but I am so thankful that God provided this miracle.

A lot has happened since I last provided any details in My Mother: An Update.

When they discovered the hole in her stomach, they decided not to sew it closed, because there was a chance they would sew in an infection. The doctors wanted her stomach to heal from the inside out. They had apparently put some gauze on it and forgot about it, and so by Sunday there was infection run amok in her abdomen...bastards.

They installed a zipper of sorts on her abdomen, and went in twice a day to basically shovel out the copious amounts of pus...(sorry, but I don't know how else to describe what's going on). Every time this happens (twice a day this entire past week), my mom has been in excruciating pain. Her parts are sore from all the surgeries and infections and the nurses are in there just moving organs around to clear out the pus. I wish I could be there to hold her hand.

Then on Thursday or Friday they installed some sort of 24-hr vacuum to do the pus-removal for them. Apparently it worked well, because Mom was able to eat liquid substance on Saturday :)

When I talked to her last night, she was in such a better mood. She had been getting pretty down in spirits with all the unknowns and complications and sheer boredom. But yesterday, she was actually cracking jokes!

I think she is having daily cat scans to monitor her insides...I can't imagine excessive radiation is good for her...Dad says he hopes that tomorrow he will get a better idea from the doctor just where exactly everything stands.

I've sent her a few things that she should receive next week. Hopefully the packages will help her fight off the boredom and loneliness and frustration.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hold Me Now

I was recently told that I need to write more. It's a true story. I only posted four times in November on this blog! In the last five weeks, I have had a birthday, I had a kick ass Thanksgiving, I hosted a super fun party for Brytin's birthday, I have been worried about my mom, and I have been busy being a fabulous wife.

I do have tons of stuff to write. I have most of it hand-written; I just need to type it up. Tonight, though, I have a post for you. I was sitting in my living room, alone, playing Sudoku and enjoying the music of Jennifer Knapp. One of the songs that I've listened to at least a thousand times caught my ear.

Hold Me Now
From glass alabaster
she poured out the depths of her soul.
O foot of Christ would you wait
if her harlotry's known?
falls a tear to darken the dirt.
Of humblest offerings to forgive the hurt.
She is strong enough to stand in your love.

I can hear her say...
I am weak.
I am poor,
I'm broken, Lord
but I'm yours.
Hold me Now. Hold me Now.

Let he without sin
cast the first stone if you will.
To say that my bride
isn't worth half the blood that I've spilled.
Point your finger and laugh if you choose
to say my beloved is borrowed and used
She is strong enough to stand in My love.

This songs speaks of two different instances of Jesus' ministry to women. Though both have many very valuable lessons, I am only going to write about the revelation that came to me this evening.

From Luke 7:35-50
Out of sheer adoration for her Savior, a prostitute cries at Jesus' feet, dries them with her hair, and then washes them with perfume. The Pharisees are appalled that he would allow a prostitute to touch him. Jesus explains that she took better care of him than the host of the party - she washed his feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed them repeatedly and then poured expensive perfume on them.

From glass alabaster
she poured out the depths of her soul.
O foot of Christ would you wait
if her harlotry's known?
falls a tear to darken the dirt.
Of humblest offerings to forgive the hurt.
She is strong enough to stand in your love.

I can hear her say...
I am weak.
I am poor,
I'm broken, Lord
but I'm yours.
Hold me Now. Hold me Now.

It takes a truly strong person to accept that they need Christ. It is not easy to set pride aside and admit that I cannot get myself into Heaven. I need the blood of Christ.

I spent a good portion of my life labeling myself as weak, sub-par, a failure, and so much less. Only recently have I begun to comprehend the true strength I have and only tonight, as this song caught my ear, did I realize that I am strong enough to stand in Christ's love. The twelve disciples weren't (until the Holy Spirit came), Pontius Pilate wasn't, but this outcast harlot was, and I am too.

If you would like to learn a little more about the meanings behind this song, check out this blog entry by Jess Lemken on The Branch.

I previously wrote about the inability we have to cast stones.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Critical, but Stable

Mom is okay. She still needs your continued prayers.

She has an infection in her abdomen that they haven't been able to rid of. She is in critical condition still, but she remained stable another day. She's going to be fine, but the road to recovery is going to be long, painful, tiring, frustrating, and full of trial and error.

Please pray that she would be able to keep her spirits up while in the hospital.

For history, see these posts:
My Mother
My Mother: An Update

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I finally found Kristin Stich! (Apparently, I had been spelling her name wrong all these years.)

This treasure came in perfect timing for me. I have been working on self-esteem issues, and one of my biggest haunts was that I always had a negative impression of the type of friend I was to her. For 15 or so years, I have regretted choices I made...

For her to tell me that I was her best friend really just affirms everything I have been learning -- there is no reason for me to be so damn negative about myself!

Old friends really are the best friends!

Good Morning!

The beauty I awoke to this morning

As I awoke to kiss my husband good-bye as he left for work, I looked up at the sky and saw the most beautiful mix of blue, pink and white...

I have so much to be thankful for in my life. A wonderful husband, an amazing stepson, a home, priceless friends who love and support me through all my ups and downs, a mother whom I adore, a father who adores my mother, and a true belief that all things happen for the good of those who love Him.

I don't have a dime to my name, but I am surrounded by an abundance of love and happiness and strength. And for these truly invaluable things, I praise God.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Mother: An Update

Please read "My Mother" for previous information.

Okay, so here's where we think we are...

My mom's bile valve in her stomach is not operating correctly. The valve has been staying closed rather than opening and closing as needed. The back-up of stomach bile coupled with the fragile state of my mother's abdomen (previous ulcers, copious amts of scar tissue, gallstones, etc) led to hole(s) being created in her disgestive system. Because of my mother's overall condition (weakened immune system, rheumatoid arthritis, etc), the hole(s) have not been able to heal themselves (whereas someone without the other complications would probably heal quickly).

The two teams of doctors who are trying to fix my mother disagree about the best plan of action, so there is currently a temporary fix in place until they can concur.

The one thing they all agree on is that my mother CANNOT ingest anything orally until these holes heal. They think it will take approximately two months. So, yesterday, a feeding tube was inserted into my mother...

Thankfully, it is Christmastime, and I KNOW God would never ever ever let anything bad happen to my mother during her favorite time of year.

If you are the praying type, please please please pray that the hole(s) would heal miraculously fast. No one in their right mind can go two months without even drinking water...Yes, food bags have the nutrients our bodies need to survive, but that doesn't satisfy a person's desire to have food, drink, etc. Plus, while she cannot ingest anything orally, she cannot take some of her necessary arthritis medicines...

Also, my mother would really really really like to attend her granddaughter Josie's 5th birthday Princess Party next Friday. Please pray that this would be an option for her.

UPDATE 12:45 pm (PST)
Dad just called. The doctors decided not to do any operations for awhile. Mom is too fragile and they are concerned that they could potentially do more harm than good by operating again. They've got the temporary fix in the valve, she's got the feeding tube in, so now it's just wait and see...Praise God that she is currently stable.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Mother

My mom is sick. She's fought with her health for about 20 years now. It started with carpal tunnel when I was in like fifth grade. Then she had a torn ligament in her knee which turned into rheumatoid arthritis. The pain pills for the arthritis ate her stomach, so she lost about 60 percent of it. My senior year in high school, she came down with A Plasta Anemia...That's a rough sketch of her history. Some of the details are foggy, some of the specifics are ignored, and some of the memories are just too horrible to remember.

My mom and I haven't always gotten along. There were about three years where I didn't even speak one word to her, but now, today, my mom and I are super close. She helps me with marriage stuff, with life stuff, with gardening, with decorating, with cooking, and with gossiping. I love talking to her on the phone for hours at a time. I wish I lived closer so I could just go hang out with her everyday (well, maybe every other day)...

Multiple times in my life, I have thought that my mom might die from whatever is ailing her at the moment, but it never hurt as bad as today. I spent all day decorating for Christmas. I spent all day thinking about my mom and how Christmas is her favorite time of year. I thought about all the gifts she has given, about the garland we used to hang at the house on 63rd, how her nickname Mallard came about, how my dad and I would always try real hard to get along at Christmas...And then at 4pm (PST) today, when I was all done decorating and just enjoying the dusky glow of twinkle lights wrapped around garland, my dad called.

My mom had to have emergency exploratory surgery, because her insides are infected and swollen. She had surgery a few weeks ago, because some gallstones had invaded her liver and were causing it to shut down. The doctor was able to get the stones out and took out her gallbladder also. She was left with a bile bag and a couple tubes.

My mom always has complications. When she had A Plasta Anemia, only my cousin Todd's plasma helped her (we attribute it to all the Hamm's he was drinking at the time). She is allergic to a thousand different things - including whatever they used to stitch her up in her last surgery. She's allergic to silver and 14k gold and a ton of medicines...

But I love her. And it's Christmas. And I believe in miracles.

UPDATE: 7 pm (PST)
My dad just called. Mom is out of surgery. It went okay, but apparently her bile bag wasn't working properly. There is bile floating around her body...not good. They are bringing in a specialist tomorrow for another surgery.

My dad was crying...if you knew my dad, you would be surprised. He's a biker, he's an asshole, he's rough and tough, he's long-haired and tattooed. But you know what? He adores my mother.

If ever there was a reason for me to love and appreciate my stepfather, it is because for thirty years, he has adored my mother. He hasn't always shown his adoration or been able to express his feelings, but I know he loves her. I've seen it. I've heard it. I've felt it. I don't know whether or not my mom knows it, but I know it.

I realized it in like '97 or '98...I was having trouble with a boyfriend, and my dad actually was the one who helped me. I don't recall anymore what he said, but I remember that my reaction was, "Wow, you really LOVE my mom. I never realized that before." Truthfully, he would be lost without her - especially at Christmastime.

UPDATE: 8 pm (PST)
My aunt Mary Joe called (my dad's sister) to try to better explain the situation, and reassure me that everything would be fine. Gotta love MJ :)

The doctor said that when he opened mom up tonight, there was infection all over. The intent of the surgery was to try to clean up (at least some) of the infection, and hopefully be able to pinpoint the cause. None of that happened. The doctor said they are "unable to pinpoint the cause at this time." Bastard.

He explained that there are a lot of possible scenarios:
1. The bile filled up her stomach and leaked out the spot where she previously had the bleeding ulcer.
2. When they operated her on previously, they nicked something and so she was bleeding internally.
3. The allergic reaction she had to the "small amount of metal" in the sutures has gotten out of control.

Either way, the doc said they have to bring in a specialist and operate on her tomorrow. Unfortunately, that is a huge concern. She just had TWO surgeries the end of October, and another one tonight. Three surgeries in one month on a frail woman is NOT a good idea! (And I guess the doctor was saying that it might take two or three surgeries to actually fix her...) One of the reasons it took two surgeries to clean up her kidney and liver is because the ulcer/stomach surgery created so much scar tissue. Aren't they just creating MORE scar tissue every time they open her up? Plus, they were saying that her blood pressure is extremely low.

If the problem is an infection, why can't they treat it without surgery? White blood cells fight infection - can't they just inject her with hundreds of thousands of the little buggers to go in and clean up? (Like those fish that suck on the aquarium glass constantly...) Can't they pump her full of antibiotics?

Surely, the miracles of modern medicine have got to have a way to help my mother.

I cannot believe this is happening the FIRST time I ever got jazzed about Christmas since moving out of my parents house...Do you think God is trying to tell me that I should be focusing more on the Savior than Santa?

UPDATE: 9 pm (PST)
I can rest easy tonight. I got to talk to my mommy :) Thank you, Lord!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I am only on page 5 of "The Female Brain," and my assessment so far is that it is just not fair!

I am not whining. I know women are strong and smart enough to rise above the forces working against us. I am just saying tht it is not fair that there are so many forces working against us.

The book (so far) explains how hormones impact every facet of our lives - our values, ideas, moods, etc. Our hormones have the potential to change us DAILY.

I have been taking birth control pills since I was 15...I cannot imagine the effect those have had on me. Not to mention, the effect when I forget to take a pill or three. What happens when I switch brands?!

There are hormones in our food, our drinks, our medicine and probably a bunch of other places I am not thinking of.

How can we ever win that battle? How can men ever understand us?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Obama's Nice Guy Act Gets Him No Where

"When he entered office, US President Barack Obama promised to inject US foreign policy with a new tone of respect and diplomacy. His recent trip to Asia, however, showed that it's not working. A shift to Bush-style bluntness may be coming."


I think this is my most favorite article I have ever read. Unlike most articles, it gets better and better as you read through it, with the best part being the ending.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Superwoman - Redeux

My meds are finally working again. We had to up the dose twice, but I am finally Superwoman again. It sux that it took over a month, but I am so thankful to be right again.

How do I know? Well, it is 3 pm and here is what I have done so far today (not necessarily in chronological order):

Made coffee
Fed Brytin
Introduced him to the Muppets
Watched Little Bill (my FAVORITE kid's show)
Fed Brytin
Deep-cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom
Helped Brytin paint a piggy bank
Painted a key holder
Fed Brytin
Sewed a hem into a table runner
Ironed the table runner
Plucked my eyebrows
Decorated the house for Thanksgiving
Create an art scrapbook of my drawings
Grocery-shopped *
Taught Brytin how to embroider
Fed Brytin
Prepped everything to embroider my apron
Watched a couple football games (intermittenly)

After I am done typing this blog, I will begin to prepare dinner. I am planning to make a chicken braid. I haven't made it in like seven years; I hope Chris likes it :)

*I found a new grocery store called Save-a-Lot. They're not kidding. For $70 I got the following:
Cookie Sheet
2 lbs bananas
1 pkg Rolls
1 pkg Rice-a-Roni
1 lb tub of margarine
1 bag carrots
28 lbs of cat litter
1 bag celery
1 bag shredded cheese
1 no-bake cheesecake mix
2 cans mushroom gravy
2 cans corn
1 can cranberry sauce
1 pkg crescent rolls
2 lbs fig newtons
An 8 lb Ham
1 btl BBQ sauce
1 head lettuce
1 box turkey sausage
1/2 gal milk
1 can mushroom pieces
1 box onion soup mix
2.5 lbs oranges
1 lb onions (that I didn't actually purchase, the bastards just charged me for)
2 cans pears
.5 lbs red peppers
1 can cherry pie filling
8 lbs sweet potatoes
10 lbs potatoes
1 bag pretzels
1 loaf white bread
1 pckg cinnamon rolls
2 reusable shopping bags (I'm NOT green, but this ghetto grocery store charges for plastic bags, so I figured I might as well buy the cloth ones)
4 sticks butter
1 box Stove Top
1 btl Sunny D
5 pckgs Kool-Aid
1 box Tuna Helper
1 loaf wheat bread

Call me crazy, but that is a LOT of groceries for $70

Go Superwoman!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fun Blogs to Waste Time On

Fail Blog


Autocomplete Me

The Gallery of Regrets

Slogan T's


Interesting Article

I came across an interesting article this morning, "White House Shrinks Hanukkah Party."

I didn't hear any actual announcement straight from the White House, so I do not know their reasoning. I can assume that it has to do with the economy, but I definitely agree with the Jerusalem Post's opine that the decision will probably "feed feelings" of anti-semitism from the Obama Administration.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

People Bug Me

I’m not one to write a blog just for the sake of being snarky, but since Sarah can do it (and do it well, I might add), I want to do it too.

Lately, I’ve come to the realization that people bug me. No shit. They are rude, disrespectful, close-minded and just plain annoying. Not all people, but most that I seem to run in to.

I’m not trying to imply that I am perfect. I am not trying to imply that I am never any of those irritating traits. I’m just saying that I at least try really hard to NOT be that way as often as is humanely possible. (Hey, I’m a female; I get at least one day a month to be a bitch. And those days DO rollover, so if I don’t use it this month, I get to be a bitch twice next month!)

If you think for even a second that it is possible that you could be one of those frustrating people in the world that serve no purpose but to fuck up everyone’s life around you, please stop. Seriously. You bug me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

HATE mail

I got my first piece of hate mail regarding my writing today. I can honestly call it hate mail, because the guy spewed venom about me, my Christianity, and my writing...

I'm okay with it. I thought I would be distraught the first time someone told me my writing was "child abuse," but I'm truthfully okay with it.

I think that I am okay with it, because he was obviously coming from a VERY biased position.

Want to read it? It's actually kind of funny, now that I am no longer saddened by his blatant misunderstanding of who I am as a person.

Excerpts from my first hate mail:
"But - like every other religionist - you are not listening to what other people are saying and are too busy spreading your ridiculous hate filled garbage message.

And while we are on the subject of QUALITY - badly formatted bullshit written to sell children books that rot their brains by teaching them that they are worthless sinners at birth but that is OK because god loves them - well - if they accept Jeebus that is - is nothing like my idea of quality. One less religionist on the site selling un-necessary salvation to innocent children would not be a bad thing as far as I am concerned."

Funny, right? I currently have 20 articles on HubPages. The sheer fact that he choose one of them and concluded that I am a "religionist...spreading hate-filled garbage..." shows me that he is no less judgmental and oppressive than the "religionists" he hates so much.

What a great day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Weirdest Dream EVER

I seriously had the WEIRDEST dream ever last night. And no, I did not eat an Oreo McFlurry to cause it! I have NO idea why I had this dream.

I was at my mom's house (which wasn't REALLY my mom's house, it was really an old castle). There was a bunch of random stuff that happened, like putting away groceries, filling vases with flowers, laundry,etc.

So, I'm in the backyard, and I think I'm raking...and Brad Pitt walks up. (No shit.) And I start giving him a hard time, because he had bought Angelina HUGE diamond earrings because Jen (Aniston, obviously) was making fun of her...And so I'm like taunting Brad Pitt, "Oh, Brad, Jen has bigger earrings than me, waaaa waaa waaa," "Oh, don't worry, Angie, I'll fix it!"

And then Angelina pops her head out the window and starts yelling at me, like we're old shit. I'M ON TEAM ANISTON! THIS DREAM IS RIDICULOUS!

So, Angie and I sit down at the table, and we're chatting. About life. And I find out that she's a typcial 34-year-old with all the same problems most 30-year-old girls have...except she is with Brad Pitt and they have like 7 kids...

Apparently, in my dream world, Angie and I are pretty good friends...It's really creeping me out. I even asked her if Brad was good in bed! "Well, you know how sexy guys are...they've never had to work for anything in their lives..."

Anyone care to interpret?!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I don’t feel like Superwoman today. Lately, I’ve felt like Superwoman, but today I do not. That’s a very dragging feeling to realize you don’t feel amazing today. It ends up being a day that leads no where. I could force myself to clean something or pay the bills or cook something or just get up and do something, but it is really hard when the shadows are there…I don’t feel like superwoman today. I don’t feel like writing, cleaning or even watching television. When I don’t feel like superwoman, I’m quick to remember all the things I have failed at recently rather than all the successes I have had in the past couple months. I don’t like this feeling. And I know sleep isn’t the solution, but really it is all I want to do. Sleep to avoid responsibilities. Sleep to avoid shame. Sleep to hopefully wake up Superwoman again.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halliburton, KBR, and Business Ethics

Back in college, I wrote a research paper on Halliburton. It was in 2006, during the height of awareness of Halliburton's activities...

I was rereading this research paper and wondering what has happened since then. What I found is even more frustrating than the original disgusting practices of the mega-corporation.

First, they sold off their KBR division, hoping to distance themselves from the ruckus caused by poor business decisions.

Then, they moved their corporate headquarters to the United Arab Emirates, hoping to avoid criminal trials for their crimes. (We do not have an extradition treaty with UAE.)

Here is an excellent article that summarizes the atrocities committed by Halliburton against American taxpayers and the U.S. Military:

Huffington Post

Here is another article that describes their move to UAE in 2007:
Halliburton Moves to Dubai

And here is a website that provides a LOT of information regarding Halliburton:

And here is my original research paper (it's looooooooong):

Accounting, military, and taxes - all three are a part of my every day life. They also have something else in common - Halliburton. As I study for my Associates of Applied Science degree in accounting, I am increasingly more aware of the corruption that greed seems to cause. Studying Accounting and Business Ethics simultaneously this term helped me see that ethics is an integral part of stemming the corruption in American businesses. By understanding the ethical decision-making process, we learn how, when and why to make ethical decisions.

Halliburton is known for corruption in all three areas – accounting, military and taxes. Halliburton KBR is the engineering and construction division of Halliburton Company. They employ more than 63,000 people in 43 countries. (“KBR FAQs”). KBR designs, builds and provides various services for the energy industry (i.e. Enron), the government (i.e. the U.S. Army), and infrastructure (i.e. rebuilding Iraq). One side of the argument says that Halliburton is a great example of the success of multinational capitalism. The other side sees Halliburton as corrupt, greedy and a predator of taxpayers’ money. Through thorough research and lessons learned in Business Ethics B293, I hope to come to an informed conclusion on the decency of Halliburton KBR’s business decisions.

Similar to the construction industry, when the government has a job they need completed, they require different companies to submit competing bids. The government then awards the job to the lowest bidder.

No-Bid Contracts
Under a “no-bid” contract, however, there is no bidding. The government awards a job to a “preferred” vendor regardless of their proposal costs. According to State Representative Henry Waxman of California, 37 percent of all government contracts in 2003 were no-bid contracts. Of those contracts, 73 percent were military contracts. (“No-Bid Contracts Up Slightly”). The concern with no-bid contracts is that taxpayers’ dollars are potentially wasted because there is no competition to drive prices down.

Cost-Plus Contracts
A typical cost-plus contract reimburses the contractor for the cost of doing the job plus a fee. Usually that fee is 1 percent of the estimated contract cost and an "incentive fee" of up to 9 percent. ( Essentially, a contractor is reimbursed all expenses plus paid a 10 percent mark-up. With this system, contractors actually earn more money by wasting taxpayer money. The cost-plus method of accounting is the primary system today for determining how much government contractors are owed by the taxpayer. (

Halliburton’s Army Logistics contract (LOGCAP) commits Halliburton KBR to provide construction of military housing, transporting food and supplies to military bases, delivering mail, and serving food at military cafeterias. (“KBR FAQs”).

Government contracts are awarded generally through a bidding process. Halliburton’s Restore Iraqi Oil contract, however, was a non-bid award. (“All in the Family”). In the construction industry, corporations with a history of corruption are blacklisted from being awarded government contracts. Halliburton has a long history of corrupt practices: kickbacks, overcharges, questionable accounting practices, etc, but apparently, the government does not consider corruption a reason to stop awarding Halliburton multi-billion dollar contracts.

In the last five years, Halliburton has been or is currently under investigation for a plethora of offenses. In the 1995, they pled guilty to criminal charges of violating the U.S. ban on exports to Libya. Through its multinational subsidiaries, Halliburton was supplying Libya with oil drilling equipment that could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. ( In January 2003, Halliburton admitted that two of its KBR employees accepted 6.3 million in kickbacks from a subcontractor in Kuwait. ( Unproven thus far are two different instances of bribery with the Nigerian government.

Though done in a completely legal way, Halliburton plundered $25 million in pensions from their workers to buy and sell other companies. Soon after, Cheney was awarded a $20 million dollar pension. (

Halliburton is being investigated for possible over-billing taxpayers for government work done in the war in the Balkans between 1996 and 2000. The GAO, the auditors of Congress, found inflated costs for materials and services. Also, within its current Army cost-plus contract (LOGCAP), Halliburton has been investigated for gasoline overcharges, meal overcharges, hotel overcharges, and laundry overcharges. Halliburton has taken steps to remedy the problems with LOGCAP. (“KBR FAQs”).

Contract Restore Iraqi Oil
The biggest controversy Halliburton faces is their no-bid contract to extinguish oil fires in Iraq called the Contract Restore Iraqi Oil (a.k.a. RIO). In March of 2003, Halliburton was awarded a $7 billion contract by the Army Corp of Engineers. Under normal circumstances, the contract would go out for competitive bidding. But in times of emergency, or when national security is involved, the government is allowed to bypass normal procedures and award contracts to a single company, without competition. (“All in the Family”). In 2004, the Pentagon admitted that the RIO contract was awarded to Halliburton after a “political appointee” recommended the company for the difficult task. (

“We are the only company in the United States that had the kind of systems in place, people in place, contracts in place, to do that kind of thing,” says Chuck Dominy, Halliburton’s vice president for government affairs and its chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill. (“All in the Family.”) Halliburton’s competitors, of course, do not agree.

In an interview with CBS News, Bob Grace, the CEO of a well known oil well fire fighting firm, did not get the opportunity to showcase his company’s ability to fight fires, because the Department of Defense told him that the information was classified and there would be no bidding.

“I can accept confidentiality in terms of war plans and all that. But to have secrecy about Saddam Hussein blowing up oil wells, to me, is stupid,” says Grace. “I mean the guy's blown up a thousand of them. So why would that be a revelation to anybody?” (“All in the Family”).

Bob Grace says the whole point of competitive bidding is to save the taxpayers money. He believes they are getting a raw deal. “From what I’ve read in the papers, they're charging $50,000 a day for a five-man team. I know there are guys that are equally as well-qualified as the guys that are over there that'll do it for half that.” (All in the Family.”)

The government gave this contract to Halliburton, without bidding, by adding it to Halliburton’s already existing Army contract. The GAO released a report in 2004 stating that the contract was improperly awarded. (
Accounting Fraud

In addition to all the conflicts of interest between Halliburton and the U. S. Government, the SEC is investigating overstated revenues during the late 1990s. Arthur Anderson, the same accounting firm convicted of helping Enron hide illegal activity, approved the overstatements. Halliburton hid tremendous losses caused by a recession in the oil industry by changing their accounting method and not disclosing it. The consistency principle in generally accepting accounting principles states that a company should “apply the same accounting principles across periods, yet a company can change from one acceptable accounting principle to another as long as the change improves the usefulness of information in the financial statements.” (Chiappeta, et al. 513). If a company does change accounting methods, the change must be reflected in their annual financial statements in multiple places. First, they must recreate last year’s numbers with the new method, in order to offer a comparison. Then, the income statement must have a section detailing the net effect of a change in accounting principles. And finally, there must be a note included with the financial statements describing the change, why it is an improvement and what income would have been under the prior method. (Chiappeta, et al. 514). An interesting note related to Halliburton’s accounting fraud is that the former CEO of Arthur Anderson is now the CEO of Halliburton.

Since the late 1990s, Halliburton has been under continuous investigation for one thing or another. Typically, the investigations do not find illegal activities, but a lot of unethical conduct.

Halliburton’s choice to make unethical decisions has far-reaching effects. Because they are a multinational company, they have more stakeholders than I could possibly address in one ethics paper. But I will try to touch on the most integral.

Vice President, Mr. Dick Cheney, is the former CEO of Halliburton. As the defense secretary during the Persian Gulf War, Cheney had international contacts that helped to expand Halliburton overseas, and acquire most of Halliburton’s domestic competitors. Under Mr. Cheney’s direction, Halliburton doubled their government contracts from $1.2 to $2.3 billion. (“All in the Family”).

On NBC’s Meet the Press, September 14, 2003, Cheney said, “Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush’s vice president, I’ve severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven’t had, now, for over three years.” (

Unfortunately, that is not true. He received his severance in five annual payments of over $150,000 during his first term as Vice President. His $20 million pension is separate from that severance, as is the $1.4 million bonus he received in 2001.

But the clincher in his financial interest is the 433,333 shares of unexercised stock options. ( If Halliburton increases its value through government contracts, Cheney’s stock options are worth more, thus a financial interest. It turns out, however, that there is an insurance policy that awards Cheney the face value of his stock options no matter Halliburton’s financial situation. This insurance policy, according to the Congressional Research Service, releases Cheney from any financial interest in the dealings of Halliburton. Cheney has signed a written agreement to donate all profits from his stock options to charity. ( As noble as that is, taxpayers all over the world are funding the revenues that will eventually pay his stock options to a charity he chooses. It is very apparent that Cheney has made unethical decisions; however, Cheney cannot be prosecuted for conflict of interest or lying.

Once I started this research, I realized I, too, am a stakeholder in Halliburton. I am affected by Halliburton’s corruption. Actually, all service members are affected because this seeming corruption only adds to American’s negativity towards the war in Iraq. Plus, service members are getting shafted because their every move is held tightly to a federal budget; it appears that Halliburton is misappropriating some of that budget. To the tune of about $61 million Halliburton is overcharging for transporting gasoline into Iraq. About $27.4 million dollars has been overcharged to taxpayers for meals served on bases in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003. ( A routine audit of Halliburton by the Pentagon found that Halliburton was charging for 42,000 meals a day, but only serving 14,000. A letter from Representative Waxman to an auditor of Defense contracts details many overcharges and highlights a motto of “Don’t worry about the price, it is a cost-plus contract.” (Waxman, Henry). The fuel and meal overcharges alone could add $88 million to the defense budget.

In addition to affecting all taxpayer and all military personnel, the accounting fraud of Halliburton affects all of Corporate America, financial investors, and accountants. The stereotypes of fraud and corruption that honest accountants and ethical corporations face daily have only been proven by the willingness of Halliburton and Arthur Anderson tell “half-truths” in their financial statements.

Corporate Culture
In the letter from Waxman, two whistleblowers give great detail to the corrupt corporate culture at Halliburton and its subsidiaries. Whenever these two gentlemen would try to reduce costs on the Army’s LOGCAP contract, their managers would discipline them and then do the opposite. (Waxman, Henry). It was while reading this letter that I was actually brought to tears over the unethical decisions that Halliburton makes.

Social Responsibility
The whole world is somehow affected by this seeming corruption at Halliburton. When taxpayers’ money is wasted or stolen, we have less money for improving the communities in which we live. When defense budgets are wasted on supplying extra food to soldiers that are not there, we have less money for defended the country. When Americans catch wind of the corruption stemming from the Iraq war, Americans are no longer interested in helping the Iraqi citizens who need us.
Multinational Corporation

World-wide growth, like Halliburton KBR experienced during the late 1990s, can have many consequences. An onslaught of new employees in new countries with new cultures, the sudden reality of multicultural clients and unique governments can all make corporate governance a difficult task. As a multinational company (MNC), Halliburton faces very difficult ethical challenges. Though MNCs have the benefit of taking advantage of a global market, these companies must respond to a responsibility to the countries in which they conduct business. Their size and power can lead to corruption and unethical decision-making.

The number one unethical decision made by Halliburton is to use its foreign subsidiaries to conduct business with rogue nations like Iran, Iraq and Libya. In an interview with ABC Television’s Sam Donaldson, Cheney is quoted as saying, “What we do with respect to Iran and Libya is done through foreign subsidiaries, totally in compliance with US law." When Donaldson suggested, "it's a way around US law," Cheney replied: "No, no, it's provided for us specifically with respect to Iran and Libya." If you're a big multinational that's able to incorporate around the world, you don't have to worry.” ( To abuse the advantages the government gives for expanding business to other countries is inexcusable.


Government entities should never award contracts without a fair and equitable bidding process. The government should write a code of conduct, adopt ethical standards into a written policy and form a value statement to ensuring that their business dealings are ethical. Though it could be extremely costly, the government should conduct an ethics audit and then have ethical decision-making training. Possibly, by contracting with a college, the ethics audit and trainings could be done by interns, thus significantly lowering the cost to taxpayers.

Halliburton will obviously continue to be awarded government contracts despite their history of corruption. Halliburton actually has a code of conduct that is very strict and very thorough. (KBR FAQs). It would appear though, that the culture and the employees do not understand what exactly an ethical issue is. Halliburton needs to first conduct an ethics audit and then have ethical decision-making training on an on-going basis. Through the study of ethical issues we can learn how best to handle them.


“All in the Family” 16 Mar 2006. CBS Worldwide Inc. 21 Sept 2003
Chiappetta, Barbara, Larson, Kermit D., Wild, John, J. Fundamental Accounting Principles. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin. 2005.
Ferrell, Linda, Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, John. Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin 2005 Essential Information. 13 Feb 2006
“KBR FAQs.” Halliburton. 13 Feb 2006.
Kemper, Dave, et al. The College Writer. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2004
News Headlines. 16 Mar 2003. Military Advantage. 16 Mar 2003.
“No-Bid Government Contracts Up Slightly.” 27 May 2004. Gannett News. 17 Mar 2006
Waxman, Henry A., Letter to Mr. Reed of the Defense Contract Audit Agency. 12 Feb 2004. United States House of Representatives. 16 March 2006

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Personal agendas have no place in arguments to protect children

I am not an Obama-hater. I think that he had an opportunity to change the world and so far, he has fallen short. I know that part of that is that there was so much wrong in the world that he couldn't fix it all, but I think he had poor strategy, shitty advisors, and incomplete execution of his plans.

I say all that because I don't want you to think that I am posting this article for the sole purpose of bashing Obama. This article sheds an interesting light on the dynamics of children, of neighborhoods, on gangs, on schools and on the ridiculousness of bureaucracy running our lives. I'm not entirely Libertarian, but I definitely ascribe to some of their ideas.

Just like workers often feel like their boss is clueless to the day-to-day trials of a job, the city, state and federal governments have no idea what is best for a neighborhood. I realize that you would think that city governments know what is best, but they don't. They are clueless to the day-to-day happenings on the streets, in the school and in homes. The government bodies act as one unit - that unit does not know one single person that its choices impact.

I'm not implying that I think schools should be segregated by gangs to avoid violence. But I am pointing out that whomever made the choice to redistrict these schools obviously had no idea the impact it would have on the day-to-day life of the children involved.

School closings may be root of Chicago teen deaths

And now that a child has been beaten to death on a cell phone video camara for all the nation to see, Obama is sending the SAME guy who made the decision to redistrict, back to Chicago. The article doesn't say exactly why he is sending Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, back to Chicago to meet with school officials and students...My guess, however, is that they will NOT be discussing the impact absentee parents have on gang activity, they will NOT be discussing the impact violence has on human life, and they also will probably NOT be discussing the idea of expelling all gang members from public schools.

Another interesting article, Chicago Violence Haunts Obama, reveals that "47 school-age children have been killed in homicides, mostly by guns, since the month President Barack Obama took office."

But then in the other article, you see a Child Protective Services worker stating, "The violence claiming the lives of Chicago youth is not limited to the school week or inside the school."

What we seem to have hear is a common case of all parties involved refusing to actually listen, to actually dig in to find the root of the problem, a governement choosing to be reactive rather than proactive, and everybody pleading the case for their own agenda. You have gun-control advocates focusing on the guns, you have fiscal conservatives focusing on the contributions that Section 8 and welfare make to poverty, you have school officials touting the improvement in their test scores, you have Obama-haters focusing on Obama's inability to fix the problems while he was in Illinios, and athletes and city officials focusing on the lost opportunity of the 2016 Olympics.

I'm not so bold as to say I have a solution to Chicagos years of violence problems. But I am saying that if someone doesn't speak up soon to find a solution to the whole problem, children will continue to die.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Desert Garden at Balboa Park

I had the pleasure of strolling through the Desert Garden at Balboa Park today. Why I was there is a long, sad tale, but since I was there I planned to enjoy it. I had been there once before, but I was with a stick in the mud…

This morning, when I returned, I was sad that I had not returned sooner. Not only is this garden amazing, but cacti themselves are spectacular. They are so intricate – prickly on the outside but soft, supple, thirsty on the inside. They are green. They flower. They protect themselves, and yet if you allow them to, they can take your breath away with their awesomeness.

In case you didn’t know, I have a near obsession with the Joshua Tree. And somehow, the fact that there are Joshua Trees in San Diego escaped me. I almost cried as I walked around a curve there was a tree of Yeshua beckoning me. I know it is odd that I would have a fascination with a Mormon symbol, but I find the tree, and all it represented, to be fascinating.

I enjoyed cacti today that were so varied – they looked like everything from animals to sea life to cartoons to monsters to palm trees. They can be gi-normous or itsy bitsy. And the prickles – maybe Dolly was actually on to something with her cacti security system. I wish I could draw. I wish I had brought my camera. I tried to find images for you on Google, but all they had were the common ones - saguaro, pear or flowers on barrel cactus...

I saw one that looked like a crab. I saw a flowering pineapple. Sometimes, they look like Dr. Seuss drawings. Sometimes they even look like snails without shells. They look like starfish. There was a tree that looked like a cyclops with an afro. There was another tree that looked as though it was where green beans come from. Another one was literally a million arrows pointing to Heaven.

There was one that I enjoyed very much, but I could not think of an accurate word picture to describe it. It was a brown stick, with rows of tiny green leaves (shaped like stegosaurus back plates – no, not the Thagomizer). Between each leaf was a shiny silver prickle. It reminded me of ants marching to the top; it was very orderly, very uniform, very organized.

Cacti house lizards and birds and spiders. Some can even heal you. And some can possibly get you high.

What a blessing I received today – to be stuck in the Desert Garden at Balboa Park! I really did not want to leave.

Two things I learned while writing this blog:
Regarding grammar: more than one cactus = cacti (cactuses is acceptable)
Regarding succulents: Virtually all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.

I added pics of the cactus garden to Brytin's blog. Check 'em out :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Year Has Passed

One year ago, I began a journey that I was not at all prepared for. Truthfully, it is a journey that may never end, and it probably began more than a year ago.

One year ago, I wrote this:
In my particular trial that started 9/28/08, and will last for the rest of my life, it really was not even about me. It was not a lesson I needed to learn. I am just the example of Christ that was necessary for all parties involved. I have to go through this so that others can see what unconditional love really looks like.

Many things happened to compound the problems I faced that day, but thankfully, I embraced every circumstance as an opportunity to exemplify love. Oh sure, I still got angry and sad and frustrated and confused and scared, but when all the dust settled, I chose love as the emotion to display.

Over the last year, I have grown more than I ever thought possible. I have physically shrank due to stress, I have emotionally broken-down multiple times and I have cried more tears than some cry in a lifetime. I have even shouted and pounded my fists a few times.

But, as I look back over the last year, I can see the wonderful woman I have become.

By loving others unconditionally, I have finally begun to love myself unconditionally.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Effective Communication Requires Compassion - Part III in a Series

In reading the book, “How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking about it” by Pat Love and Steve Stosny, I have learned some invaluable tools to improving communication. The tools have been helpful in my marriage, but are also applicable to other relationships – co-workers, children, friends and family.

First, I learned that fear and shame are the driving factors in most conversations that are not of a positive nature. When in a conversation, recognizing and respecting the other person’s fears or shame will go a long way in improving communication.

Read Part I here

Second, I learned that while recognizing and respecting someone’s fear or shame can improve communication, actually talking about it will often times create anger, resentment, barriers and/or silence. In order to reconnect with someone you have had a communication disconnection from, you need to focus on your own core values and make sure that you are being true to exactly what is most important to you.

Read Part II here

Remaining true to our core values is a vital step in communication improvement. Until you have a good handle on focusing on your own actions, judging your own efforts and behavior, you will be unable to “deepen your understanding” of someone else’s perspective.

The next step in improving your communication is compassion. Some people confuse sympathy, empathy and compassion.

Sympathy is as if to say, “I’m really sorry you are going through this. If there is anything I can do to ease your pain, please let me know.”

Empathy is to have shared in a similar experience thus resulting in a deeper understanding and ability to aid in the healing process – even so far as making suggestions for steps towards healing.

Compassion is a general feeling of care and concern for someone important to you. This care and concern leads to a desire to understand this person’s pain and ultimately a willingness to do whatever it takes to help him or her.

Until we have compassion for someone else’s fear or shame, we cannot work to improve the circumstances or situation that caused the fear or shame in the first place.

A Real Life Example

I recently had a friend who had no problem very bluntly telling me exactly what the problems are in my life. And even though there was some truth in her stinging observations regarding my marriage, my job, my personality, my mentality, my Christianity, my parenting skills, and my relationship with family, we were unable to devise any solutions to said problems, because her observations lacked compassion.

She had no concern for my feelings or respect for me as an individual or understanding of how or why I got in to certain predicaments in the first place. Because she was unwilling to understand my perspective, because she was so focused on proving me wrong, I created a barrier. I stopped hearing her rambling about what I needed to do to “fix my life,” and spent my time with her being thankful that I was not her. Instead of there being a mutual respect for our differences, an appreciation for our separate set of experiences, instead of there being a sensitivity to our individualities, our different temperaments, and our different vulnerabilities, I was only willing to put up with whatever she had to say, hold in how I really felt, change the subject as soon as possible, and avoid it for the remainder of our time together. Sound like communication you have had?

Marriage Application

The same insensitivity to individuality happens in marriage. “The very intensity of love, when it exists without high levels of compassion, seems to make us merge with each other; we begin to assume that our loved ones see the world exactly the way we do. This obscures what they actually feel, how they think, and, in large part, who they really are. They become merely a source of emotion for us, rather than separate persons in their own right. If they make us feel good, we put them on a pedestal. If they make us feel bad by not seeing the world the way we do, we feel betrayed. (See pages 114-115)”

On page 108, the authors break it down very simply:
• If you are a woman and you’re feeling resentful, angry, anxious or afraid, and your partner is not helping, he is trying to avoid feeling shame. Your anxiety = his sense of inadequacy or failure.
• If you are a man and your feeling resentful, angry, sulky or withdrawn, and your partner is not helping, she is feeling anxious. Your irritation = her fear.

It is at this point when a woman typically would try to talk about the issue. Unfortunately, when we are hurt, our language part of the brain is lacking blood. Instead of working together to solve a problem we “fumble for the right words or use the wrong words and express something different” than what we mean. We ask to be valued, appreciated cherished, but we are actually causing our partner to feel inadequate, like a failure.

In these situations, the authors suggest that rather than talking about the issue, we make a nonverbal attempt to reconnect to our partners. “If one person makes a genuine gesture of connection, the other partner will feel the impact even if he or she does not reciprocate at the moment…Even if your partner does not respond in your preferred manner, making a gesture of connection will connect you to your core values and raise the compassion level in the relationship…when the two of your feel connected, you can easily solve the problem. (See page 109.)”

Compassion makes us better people in all areas of life. When we expand beyond the limitations of our own experiences, we open ourselves up to opportunities to improve our self-value. We can help people we care about manage their vulnerabilities rather than use them as weapons for our personal gain.

Compassion in communication may require you to be kind to someone who is not being kind to you. But if your marriage is full of arguments, bickering, insults and communication breakdowns, why not be true to who you are and extend compassion to the person you have chosen to spend your life with? If your working relationship with someone is full of sideways barbs, undermining, and an unwillingness to work as a team, why not be true to who you are and extend compassion to a person you are stuck working with?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Broussard Bible Blog

I started another blog. Why? Well, that is a really long and sorry tale, but I started it. Read it if you are interested.

Broussard Bible Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


A couple weeks ago, I made the choice to enroll in a writing school. I want to be a writer, a published writer. I've recently been working some internet avenues to make small amounts of money with my writing, but decided to enroll in a writing course that guarantees I will be published (or my money back).

I submitted my initial assignment (a personal profile), and then waited for my books to show up prior to moving on to my next assignment.

My books came today! Suddenly, I am overwhelmed, I am excited, I am nervous and I am curious. Can I really do this? Can I really write for profit? Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Am I witty enough? Is what I have to say of any consequence to the world?

Does it matter? Am I writing for myself or for others? Am I writing for creative release or for an income?

Will I be able to find the time to do this? I know it sounds ludicrious - I don't work, but really my days are full! I am going to need to organize myself a little better if I am to write every day in addition to taking care of my home, my family, myself and various other responsibilities.

Today I received four assignments, six books and 7 CD/DVDs. WTF?! Six books? What about the books I am already reading - Becoming a Writer, How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking, Searching for God Knows What? Plus, I am supposed to be reading with Brytin every day!

I have been writing to this blog for exactly two months today. Not everyday, but a lot. I pour my heart and soul out every chance I get. I do not get much reaction. I do not know if anyone reads what I've written. I do not know if anyone is impacted by my efforts.

I have about a week to decide if I'm really going to go through with this schooling...I think my first decision needs to be to decide if I am writing for me or for you.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


A lesser-minded individual would have given up by now. A weaker soul would have caved, but she perseveres. She continues to fight for herself and for her children. She stays sober in the face of defeat, not because the courts are telling her to, but because sobriety is her choice.

In the six and a half months since that tragic night, she has gotten certified to be a personal chef and a yoga instructor. She has continued her quest for a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has taken classes to learn co-parenting skills, communication skills and anger management skills. She has read countless books. She successfully completed a month-long stint in rehab. She has told her story to substance abuse classes. She has endured the death of her grandmother. She has lost and regained partial custody of her two children. She spends every Saturday and Sunday with them. She attends church at least three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every week. She reads her Bible every day and prays that God’s Will would be done in her life. She attends church every Sunday and teaches her son everything she can about Jesus Christ.

For all intents and purposes, the woman has been rehabilitated. What more could she possibly do to atone for her sins? Yes, she endangered her life and her son’s. I get that. But should a woman be seen only as her mistake? Did we not learn anything from “The Scarlett Letter?”

Her readiness conference yesterday was continued until October 29th. That’s more than six weeks from now! The emotions I felt in July are even more frustrated now. The District Attorney continues to try to make an example of her – offering nothing but punishment to the full extent the law allows.

Who would gain from such a sentence? What benefit would be added to San Diego County if she served YEARS in prison for driving drunk? Her children won’t be any safer than they are now. She won’t be any more encouraged to be a productive member of society. Putting her in prison puts a drain on the taxpayers, whereas allowing her to be free to work pays taxes. She won’t have a license, she doesn’t have a car – she cannot endanger anyone’s life any more than you or me.

I understand that she has shown that when under the influence of alcohol, she is capable of making poor decisions. However, time has proven that she wants to be sober. Forever.

What good is it doing anyone to continue punishing her and possibly even punish her more?! Who is benefitting from this? Certainly not her or her children, not Chris or Richard or me are gaining anything. She cannot go off base (except for meetings), so her shopping is limited to the convenience store at the hospital. She cannot go to Bible study. She cannot pick up her mail. She cannot even take her kids to a playground.

And this is where her strength, intelligence and perseverance shine through. Sure, she gets frustrated and disappointed every time her request for liberty is denied. But every time, she accepts it and continues her journey. She does not drown her sorrows in liquor, she does not throw up her hands in surrender, she does not change her course. She trusts in the Lord’s timing and wholeheartedly believes that “all things work for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:26)

I can only pray that someone somewhere will eventually see and appreciate the amazing woman she has become and allow her the opportunity to be the beacon of light that she is to a greater audience.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How to Improve Your Communication without Talking – Part II

After reviewing Part I of the book “How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking about it” by Pat Love and Steve Stosney, I waited a while before diving into Part II. I wanted to give myself time to digest and apply the things I learned in Part I. If you haven’t read How to Improve Your Communication Part I, please do so before reading this review.

I am only eight pages into Part II “Using Your Fear and Shame to Create Love Beyond Words.” I must admit, I am mildly shocked by what I have read so far. As I concluded my review of Part I, I was expecting for the authors to “explain how I can have better respect for our differences and approach my husband in a non-confrontational, non-threatening way so that both of us are compelled to listen.” And though that is exactly what they have done in the first chapter, I am shocked, because:

1. The manner in which they are suggesting I have better respect for our differences is not what I expected to read and

2. I already figured this out on my own.

Not to toot my own horn too much, but only about six weeks ago, I was discussing my marriage with my Bestie, and I came to the same conclusion that the authors are presenting.

It goes something like this:

I cannot change my husband. I can only control my actions and responses. If Chris chooses to be a less than spectacular husband, he will have to live with that. When he is 80 years old, he will bear the burden of regret for the opportunities he chose to ignore - not me. I can control my choices. I can choose to be an amazing wife every single day. I can joyfully take care of his home, his son, and his finances. If he chooses to be a schmuck, that is his loss. He loses out on the opportunity to be an amazing husband, but that does not change my opportunity to be an amazing wife.

I kid you not, that is exactly what this book is telling me so far. After asking me a few questions about my core values or what qualities make me me, the book goes on to say this:

Staying true to your values and honoring those of your partner are essential to improving your relationship. “The capacity to stay true to your deepest values – and thereby transform your fear and shame – lies entirely within you. If you remain true to your answers to the ‘most important’ questions, you will most likely have a strong connection with your partner. And in the end, you will judge yourself by your own efforts and behavior, not by your partner’s.”

Here’s how it looks in a practical application:

“When you are upset, angry or resentful, try to focus less on what your partner is doing and ask yourself these questions:

 Am I acting like the person I most want to be? If not, what can I do to act like that person? Answer: Improve, Appreciate, Connect or Protect.

 Am I being the partner I want to be? If not, what can I do? Answer: Improve, Appreciate, Connect or Protect.”

I suppose I got a little ahead of myself in my excitement. According to the authors, women’s fear and man’s shame are aroused by guilt. Guilt is the direct result of doing/saying something that is out of line with what is most important to you, or your core values. For example, my answer to the question “What is the most important thing about you as a partner” was “The unwavering love and support I show my spouse.” So whenever I step away from that core value, whenever my words and actions do not show unwavering support to my husband, I subconsciously feel guilty and then instantly need to talk to him to restore my feelings of connectedness.

To get you back in step with your core values (without talking about your relationship), the book offers these four “core value inspirations:”

Improve. “If you are feeling bad and you think about what you can do to make it a little better – you do not even have to do it, just think of it – you will start feeling better…Even if improvement is only in your head, it will change your emotional demeanor and that will make negotiations with your partner go much better.

Appreciate. Value your partner. Subsequently, you will value your own life.

Connect. “Genuinely care about your partner’s emotional state.”

Protect. “Help him relieve his dread of failure as a provider, protector, lover and father. Help her to relieve her fear of isolation, deprivation and harm.”

I still have another 100 pages of Part II to read, but I decided to go step-by-step in my review in order to make sure I fully understand each suggestion. I think the first chapter is telling me to start improving my marriage by focusing less on my partner’s mistakes and more on my responses to those mistakes. To steal from Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in your relationship.” If you are not being true to yourself in your words and actions, choose to improve. Start by appreciating, connecting or protecting – whatever comes first in your circumstance, whatever comes naturally to you.

Once I am finished with this book, I plan to read The Female Brain