It's the End of The World As We Know It

And I feel fine....

dear lord-is that the official video for this song??? That house is DISGUSTING. At some point, I was screaming at my monitor for the boy to STOP TOUCHING stuff on the floor, cause I'm pretty sure the world in that video ended because of some nasty disease that is most likely all over that floor, and he and his little doggy are the next victims.

Remember back in the day when there was this channel on television called Mtv-where the M stands for Music-and you could turn it to that channel at ANY time of the day and actually watch music videos that were tastefully made by the artist just for your enjoyment?

And then suddenly there was a random game show. Or a reality show that had NOTHING to do with music. NOTHING. (although on The Real World, they usually try to throw in a character who sings/raps/dances)

And then even more suddenly, there was only music videos on for half a day. And then pretty soon...only in the wee hours-like 4am-6am. And now I'm not sure they play music videos at all. I don't pay for cable, cause I'm busy sticking it to the man, but last time I visited somewhere with Mtv, I was never able to happen upon any music from the MUSIC television channel.

Where is the MUSIC, Mtv???? WHERE IS THE MUSIC???

Happy Holidays!

Another holiday, come and gone. Time really does speed up the older you get.
Here are the holiday pics (which I recognize that only my family cares about).

USC Pride

The "kids"

These are two of my favorite humans.

awwww, so cute, my parents are.
This is Bananagrams - one of the most fun games we just discovered (and enjoyed for at least six hours over a 2-day period)!

The Pea Coat boys - we bought this adorable 3 yr old a pea coat to match his dad and Andrew. SO cute!

USC bound in just a week....yikes!!!
Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Adventures in Volunteering - The Holiday Store Project

It's the holidays - and you know what that means?? Presents Day Really meaningful volunteer projects!!!
I actually haven't been volunteering much lately, just a few times since the big Heart Incident of 2011. I had done my Love Letters project (making cards for terminally ill kids) every month for 5 years..and then I just stopped. The ABC Project (making ABC posters for schools in Africa) - every month for (maybe) 3 years...just stopped. For the last three years, I've organized/coordinated 4 different holiday projects in December. This year - just one.
I'm hoping to make up for the last six months of non-volunteering in 2012, after Andrew leaves me forever and I have nothing at all to do.

However, I did manage to coordinate the Holiday Store event this last weekend. With the help of eight wonderful volunteers, we created a little "store" at a local low-income apartment complex where parents could come in and pick out one free toy per child. We even offered to gift wrap it for them and deliver it to their apartment when ready. It's a really fun project, as most of the families are VERY appreciative and show it. I think people have a hard time understanding that it's hard for poor people to ask for help. It's humbling and sad and really hard. Sometimes when you have to ask for help, you come across as unappreciative, rude even. I am glad that most of the parents I personally talked to on Sunday were visibly appreciative.

Over 100 parents came into our makeshift "store" and received a free gift - and we had the extra toys packed and were on our way home within two hours from start to finish! That's some amazing work. My volunteers were awesome.

The two girls in the middle have volunteered at two of my projects in the past - they volunteer together throughout the year, taking pics of themselves volunteering at each event and then make a Goodness Calendar at the end of the year for their mom. Sweetest thing ever, right??

Happy monkeys!!

Happy wrappers!

I love this event! I wish it was every month - handing out toys would be my ideal full-time job I think.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Doctors and Darlings and Doing Good, oh my

Time is ticking...Andrew is leaving me soon. But we shall not discuss that.

I had a fairly nice weekend.

Friday I went to the local urgent care and had some feelings validated by a friendly doctor that my cardiologist is, indeed, not doing all he should be doing. Unless he's just not telling me-in which case, he's not doing his job as a medical professional. I see a new cardiologist in another week or so and I think I will be much happier. I hear she's not an asshole, so that should be a nice change. And in the meantime, the urgent care doctor tested my liver and kidneys and they are healthy and happy (which is nice considering how I take a handful of drugs each day that could potentially ruin them and my cardiologist has never tested them). My visit was because I have this recurring muscle pain in my upper left body, above my chest area-most definitely not a heart issue, and I'm so totally over it. He thinks it could be due to that above-mentioned daily dose of drugs, but it's hard to say. Either way, it was nice to have a second opinion on it (I saw someone a couple weeks ago and her treatment didn't seem to fix it).

Saturday I had a visitor!! This lovely little blondie came over to spend five and a half hours entertaining me. I ADORE this little girl!!!

I haven't gotten to hang out with a little girl for ages, just one-on-one, for any length of time. I think if all little ones were as awesome as she is, I could open a daycare. But I know she is an anomaly and that most kids aren't as perfect as she is, so alas, I'll keep my day job. We played with action figures that have been neglected for about 10 years, we had some lunch, we colored giant coloring pages (which are way more fun than normal size) while we watched a movie, we played Dance Party for Kids on Kinect, and life was PERFECT. And then her mean mom came and made her rush off and she cried mondo sized tear drops (and we may have laughed at her because it was so ridiculous sounding), which means she very clearly loves me more than anyone in the world.
**note: her name starts with an A - and she's a perfect child. My son's name starts with an A - also perfect. I think I need to keep this in mind when I get a foster child. Children whose names start with A are most compatible with me.

Saturday night was bingo with my bingo gang. I don't know how I could possibly have a better time anywhere else with these people. My workmate and her son and then another workmate, and we have the BEST laughs ever at bingo. We go about once a week most months, and I'm not exaggerating (like I sometimes am apt to do) when I say that we have more fun together than anyone else in the entire bingo hall -there is sometimes a couple hundred (bored and boring) people there! I suspect every person there finds us horribly obnoxious, but the four of us don't care! Well, one of us cares...but she's a good sport about it, and she's usually laughing so hard it doesn't matter. I can't imagine what other people do for entertainment anymore. This is all I know these days....

Today was a volunteer project-I'll cover that tomorrow. It's one of my favorites and I was happy to have three good friends and two repeat volunteers with me. If you don't volunteer throughout the year, there are usually some of the best random volunteer projects planned during this time. However, if you want to volunteer just once a year, feel free to consider March. Or June-July. We see a TON of people who get in the holiday spirit and want to help out in December, which is fabulous and all - but then we still have projects all year which need help, ya know? Christmas in July? Definitely - make it about giving back. There's always someone in need.

Alrighty then - another week begins. And it's just one more week closer to the time when my son leaves me forever. But we're not going to discuss that, right?

Hope you all had a marvelous weekend!

Choice. It's a Powerful Thing!

This is directly from Married with Luggage, a wonderful blog about a couple who sold everything and took off to travel the world together. Talk about seize the day!!! They seize every single one of each of their days. EVERY single one! I'm insanely jealous of their world-trekking life and I highly recommend their blog. They make me want to do more with my life...

And this was a post of theirs recently - these are not my words, I wish they were, but I'm glad to share them just the same:
You can do it,

and by “it” I mean any of the options you have before you. Picking one over the others is not a permanent choice, and you can change your mind and go in a different direction if it doesn’t work out. You always have options, even when you feel as if you don’t. Especially when you feel as if you don’t.

Changing course completely, adjusting your sails, riding out a storm, anchoring in still waters: it is all up to you.

You are not defined by any single decision in this life.

Your life is a creation of the hundreds of decisions you make every single day, and the definition of you changes slightly with every single choice you make. You are a work in progress, and you won’t be finished until you draw your last breath.

You will mess up,

and when you do it will be a great learning experience for you. You’ll be much better prepared the next time, when that life-changing opportunity comes around. You’ll thank yourself for making a go of it and failing because it will give you the skill to succeed the second or third or 27th time, when it really counts.

Your heart will be full and your heart will break,

and you’ll look back at both instances with a tear in your eye, thankful for the experience. Neither one is too much for your heart, and you are stronger for knowing this.
People will come into your life and change it

in small and profound ways, and you will do the same for them. People will leave your life slowly or suddenly, and you will learn to let go and be thankful for the time you had together. When you leave the lives of other people, you will learn to do it gracefully.

Money will flow all around you or go straight down the drain.

You will find that you can be happy or sad in both scenarios, and this knowledge will give you the power to always be able to take care of your basic needs.
You will get through this,

whatever “this” is, and you will again see the beauty, the wonder, and the cosmic luck you have to be living right now, in this place, with these choices in front of you.


It’s all gonna be okay.

So brilliant. So true.

A Visit to USC - And So It Begins....

I think most of you heard that my beloved one and only child is leaving me soon to go to this outstanding college, University of Southern California. We just returned from a visit for the spring admit orientation session, which was pretty amazing, if not a bit overwhelming. It was two days jam-packed of information on everything you ever needed to know to send your money child to college there. And I am even more proud/excited that he is going to USC and that we are both part of this "Trojan Family", as it truly is amazing.

My college is nice and all....but the alumni association is NOTHING like what I just saw. And the campus was cool at WSU when I went...but it doesn't even compare to USC.

A couple of interesting stories from our weekend away:

Day one: We are wandering through the bookstore, collecting some gear and some random kid walks up to Andrew and says - hey, I know you! It turns out that they are currently in the same anthropology class at our local community college. They haven't really talked in the class, and neither knew that the other was going to USC in January. There are a TON of classes they could have taken at the community college to transfer over in the Spring-but they both happened to be in the same one, both happened to go to the orientation (only about 65% of the kids do) AND both happened to be on the same floor in the bookstore (there are 4 floors) at the exact same time the day before orientation began. Weird....

Day one (part two): We went to Medieval Times for dinner and a show (we've been there before and enjoyed it) - this group of young girls sits down in our row and the one sitting next to me says: Could we take a picture with your son? We're visiting LA and we aren't seeing any celebrities so we are taking pictures of celebrity look-a-likes." And then they turn to Andrew and say, "do you know who you look like??" Andrew has heard this one plenty of times....yes, some people think he looks like some young star from some random vampire flick, Taylor Something. Maybe he does...regardless, he posed for a photo with the girls. And I commenced to calling him Taylor the rest of the night.

 I guess I can kind of see it...

No first-time visit to USC would be complete without a picture of Tommy Trojan.
Unfortunately, my darling son could not comprehend the need for his mom-who is going to be leaving her one and only offspring FOREVER -to have a picture to capture this moment in time, and he refused to be in the photo. Whatever.
The Infamous Tommy Trojan
It was a BEAUTIFUL two days in Los Angeles. Some people felt it was cold, but I don't know that it ever got below 55degrees. When we came home to Oregon, the temp was 33.
See Tommy Trojan in the background? With other future students getting their pic taken there? I'm only a little bitter.

Day Two: During one of the parents sessions, where the parents are invited to share and cry with each other (not kidding-they passed around tissue boxes), the first woman to stand up starts talking about how her daughter is independent and is not being mindful of how SHE (the mom) might also have some feelings during this time and maybe isn't letting her mom take part in the excitement of it all (I refrained from standing and yelling ME TOO!!!), and that was nice-to hear from another mom right off the bat who has a child just like mine. She probably didn't get a Tommy Trojan photo either.
BUT then....she says this: Last year I had a heart incident where they unexpectedly found a 90% blockage in one of my arteries and they had to put a stent in during an emergency procedure and I really could have died, and I have spent the last year worrying about dying and thinking about all that I still had to teach my daughter....
and then she faded out because she was sobbing, as was everyone in the room, and I seriously came VERY close to standing up and yelling ME TOO!!! at that point.

What are the odds that I would find another parent with an independent child, feeling excluded but who also had the same heart issue that I did, in that room of 175 parents? VERY strange, right? I loved her. We are soul sisters, though I actually never got a chance to talk to her after this seminar, but I'm sure she felt my love.

Anyway, I met some great parents - one of whom even offered her name, address, email, home phone for Andrew and I both to have in case he needs something that she can help with, since she lives within 20 minutes of the college. Andrew met a lot of the kids he will be going to school with in just about 30 days (yikes!).
And we both are very excited for his experience at this amazing college, although one of us has a level of excitement that might be coated with tears of sadness.

Remember That One REALLY Funny Story I Was Going to Tell You?

I was at the gas station the other day and I thought of something really AWESOME to blog about. And then I said, omg-that is going to be THE best thing I've ever written. Ever. And I thought about it all the way home (it's a mile, but it feels a lot longer) and then I got home and ate dinner and did dishes (I'm kidding-I like to let my food start digesting before I fully dismiss the memory of said food) and did other things and probably talked to the cats and got the mail. And then forgot what I was going to blog about. But it was REALLY effing spectacular. Take my word for it.

The other night I was lying in bed, avoiding sleep by playing this stupid Jewels Maze game on my mega-smart phone, and I had this sudden thought---and I said to myself-WHOA...that is the funniest thing I could ever write about!! I MUST blog it!!! And I thought-should I try to blog on my mega-smart phone? But I didn't want to interrupt my quest to get three stars on all 100 levels of my jewel maze game, and I was so certain there was no way that I would ever forget something so incredibly unique and hilarious. Cause come was HILARIOUS.....and so I played my game, went to sleep, slept past my alarm, and then completely forgot it.

This is my new life.

Andrew is oh-so-tired of hearing about it, as are a few of my friends (maybe all of them, but only a few of them are vocal about it) - but hello-four months ago my heart tried to kill me and now I am on a not-so-fun cocktail of medication and my body is like: hey, let's gain weight - let's sleep like the dead - let's not sleep at all - let's forget EVERYTHING always - let's gain MORE weight - let's be REALLY moody - let's not care about anything - have we gained enough weight yet - let's be grumpy!!!

It's been a fun four months everyone. You have missed a lot by me not blogging. If I could remember it, I would share it.

p.s. I hate my cardiologist.

Math Hurts

We spent much too much time on this.

Foster Parent Training - One Down, One to Go!

Wow. If you want to be deeply saddened by humanity, take a foster parenting class.

To be fair, the foster care network I'm going through is called therapeutic foster care, so all of the children have been diagnosed with something - from your basic ADD to a developmental disability, to...anything really. Some of them have been physically and/or sexually abused. Some have alcohol/drug dependency issues. All are in need of a safe environment and love. I'm not going to be a full-time foster parent (maybe at some point in the future), but I feel like there's no reason I can't be a respite care foster parent.

Respite care is a time for foster parents to get a break, as well as for the foster kids to get a break, from each other so they don't reach a breaking point in the family dynamic. The program I'm going to provide respite care for actually provides it for children who are not yet in foster care but who are in danger of being placed outside their home and under state care. Basically, I'll be taking in one foster child from (most likely) Friday night through Sunday evening. Just one weekend a month to start, but probably never more than two weekends a month total. I might have the same child each month, it might be a different child every month.

So anyway, I attended 8 hrs of training yesterday and have 8 hours to go. The training yesterday was broken up in three sections-teaching about childhood development, child abuse and addressing challenging behaviors. The instructors were employees of the foster care network that I'm going through, but are also all foster parents themselves. This one couple that taught most of the day have been married for 38 years, have been fostering for 19 of them. They raised their own three children while taking in over 50 foster kids. They adopted two of the foster kids-we didn't hear about how they came to adopt those two. (Almost 100% of the kids who are in the foster program I'm going to sign up with will end up back with their families-which is the ultimate goal of their program.)

They shared some really valuable information, but they also shared a lot of really horrifying stories. Stories about children who have been so abused that you want to track down their abusers -usually their own parents- and break all protocol about cruel and unusual punishment. The stories they shared were the history of children who have come to live with them and was critical for our learning how and why foster children might behave. And wow, were there some stories.

One of the most enlightening parts of the training was when we did a group exercise while talking about the reason foster kids often act out and are challenging to live with.

We listed out who the average (American) child might have in their inner circle:
parents, siblings, pets, grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins, soccer coach, soccer teammates, best friend, neighbor, family friends, school, certain teachers.

And then they have other people in their lives, maybe not as close, but still part of their lives:
doctor, dentist, veterinarian, librarian, other teachers, grocery store, piano teacher, maybe someone they volunteer or work with.

Now look at what the average foster child has in their inner circle:
Not their parents-they only get to see them once a week now, if that.
Not siblings-they might be in their own foster care situation.
Not their pets.
Not other relatives.
Not their soccer team or school or teachers - foster children rarely get to stay int he same school district.
Not their best friend-they might get to call them, but they won't get to spend time together.

Other people in their lives:
All gone.

So who do they have?? The only ones in their lives are people who are paid to be in their lives. Foster parents are paid, their court appointed advocate (CASA) is volunteer, but don't necessarily care about their happiness. They have a social worker - paid. They might have a case worker-paid.

And they have to join a new school and somehow fit in with the social cliques that are already in place, but might come in with a stigma of a "bad child" if people know they are in foster care. And studies show that kids in foster care often get three months behind by moving ONE time in foster care. They most likely can't work somewhere. They probably have very little unsupervised time.

And they are living with strangers.

Can you even imagine how horrifying that is?? No, me neither.

I have another all-day training in two weeks. After that is a very hefty interview process, a house visit, and then we start looking at matching me with some potential foster children to spend a weekend with me! Stay tuned for more....

College Life is Coming...Are We Ready for That?

My darling baby boy is going away to college in less than two months now. I'm not counting down, but I'm painfully aware.

He just got his housing assignment at USC (Univ of Southern California). He's a Spring Admit so housing options are a bit limited, and he doesn't get to choose -they are assigned just like incoming Fall freshman. Andrew was assigned to one of the campus apartments. It's a 4-person, 2-bedroom, so he'll be sharing a room with someone just as he would be if he was in a dorm room, however, he'll only be sharing a bathroom with 3 other males, not an entire floor of them. And he'll have a kitchen-yay for having a good option to make his own food (sometimes).

Two of his roommates are over 21-which changes the dynamics a bit, but it's fine. He's a good boy, right?

Exciting stuff coming up!! Not for me - my world as I have known it for nearly 2 decades is ending, but for ANDREW - the world is opening up like a giant cave, with so much to explore.  Just watch out for the dragons, young Andrew!

I Am A Tech Goddess - Hear Me Roar

I had high intentions of blogging every other day...but then this wonderful thing came into my life:
If you haven't read the Eragon series, there's something wrong with you. And you're not my friend.
Well, that seems drastic...I guess we can still be friends, but there is definitely something wrong with you. The book series was started by the author when he was like freakishly young, maybe 14 or something? He was home-schooled. Nuff said, right?

I'm not really a big sci-fi fan, but ohdeargod-these books are SO good!!!! I wish it was never-ending. I seriously would never leave my house. I just love it so much. I forgot how much I love it until I picked up this latest book, the fourth and final book of the series. I'm in love. LOVE with the characters. I don't know what I'm going to do when I get to the end. I might cry. It might not be the first time that has happened with this book in my hand.

On a side note - and no less geeky note - I saved myself about $230 by having the cajones to attempt to fix this by myself:
It just doesn't look quite right, does it? It's almost as if it's been attacked. Like by a teenager who maybe was angry that a key or two wasn't working correctly..which might have been acting that way after the laptop was left open around pets, or maybe someone was eatting food directly over the keyboard, or maybe even spilled something on it. Some of that may have happened - I have no evidence, other than the piles of animal hair, food and dried up liquids that were found underneath this laptop keyboard when it was removed.

Anyway - I ordered the part online for approximately $13.00. I watched a 5 minute video on youtube about how to fix it. And then I spent about 70 minutes fixing it. I'm sure next time I have to do this it will take closer to the five minutes. And I'm also sure that next time I will not have to take the entire laptop completely apart four times because of random things how I unplugged the mother board without realizing it (turns out that being plugged in is really important).

Regardless - I FIXED IT MYSELF!!!!!!!

I am officially a tech guru. Feel free to ask me any technology related questions.

Happy 19th Birthday to My Bouncing Baby Boy!!!

How many of us know exactly where we were 19 years ago today? I do, I do!!!

19 years ago - my life changed F-O-R-E-V-E-R.
My life was given meaning. And purpose.
I went from being a stupid, rebellious, self-centered and stubborn 18-year old to being a proud mom of one of the greatest kids ever. I had no idea how much he would mean to me, how much he would encompass my world, how much I would completely and utterly DO for him (there are no limits). But Andrew was born - and my world as I knew it ended, and a world that I could only dream of began.

Life with Andrew has had its ups and downs - but it has been such an amazing ride, I would never choose any other life. Not even the alternative life where I marry Jon Bon Jovi and travel the world and live a life of luxury, fame and fortune galore.

It's been hard to be a single mom (since he was 3 yrs old), but even with how hard it has been - I wouldn't change a thing. Well...maybe a few things, I guess.... I have not been a perfect parent, ha, for sure.
But Andrew is as close to perfect as a teenager can be. And he has helped shape me to be the person I am today (which I hope is all goodness and unicorns and rainbows).

And now, today, he turns 19. He is entering his last teenage year. In 365 days, I will be the mother of a young man in his 20's. WTF, right???

I'm in shock that the last 19 years went by so fast, and I'm in awe of how unbelievably amazing Andrew is - I wish you could all know him and appreciate how wonderful he is, as it's not even something I can correctly convey into words. So I won't try. But here's a few random shots of one of the best 19 year olds you will ever know of:

I have no idea where this photo was taken - but I remember very distinctly how much I loved those tiny blue jeans and that old man sweater he's wearing!
Hanging out with some friends at Disneyworld.

Smiles from our tiny apartment in South Korea.

Hanging out at the grandparents house.

One of few professional photos we had taken in the last 19 years.
Def not professionally taken.

Visiting with a bear friend.

Swimming with some dolphin friends.

Self-portraits in Mexico.
Andrew as a young adult.

My heart hurts with how handsome he is!
Love, your mama

Star Wars Rocks - Gift Card Giveaway

STAR WARS THE COMPLETE SAGA  was released on Blu-ray Disc September 16th. I don't have a blu-ray player, but I have all the Star Wars movies and we LOVE them. Andrew doesn't know a life without Star Wars-he grew up with them and loves them all. We have a gazillion action figures in the garage still!
This new blu-ray collection unites all six Episodes together for the first time in stunning high definition with the purest digital sound in the galaxy. With over 40 hours of thrilling special features, including all-new content created exclusively for this release, you can journey deeper into the Star Wars universe and discover more than ever before.

In honor of the release, select General Mills Big G cereals have a limited edition Star Wars good versus evil image on their packaging, which when combined creates a full panoramic poster.

Exclusively at Walmart, look for specially marked boxes of Big G cereals, including Honey Nut Cheerios®, Cinnamon Toast Crunch®, and Lucky Charms®. Collect all three to create a Star Wars panoramic poster showcasing your favorite characters, like Darth VadarTM, Luke SkywalkerTM, Han SoloTM, Princess LeiaTM and more.

Fun with cereal boxes.
 This giveaway is for:
  • One box of each of the following cereals to form their own Star Wars panoramic poster:
    • Honey Nut Cheerios
    • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
    • Lucky Charms
  • $25 Walmart gift card
Just leave a comment with your favorite scene in Star Wars.

Mine has to be the Ewok scene party - even though a lot of people don't like the ewoks (shame on you!) - I was young when I first "met" them and I LOVED them.

Act Fast - Giveaway ends on Nov 13th, 2011 @ 5:00pm.

This is a sponsored post by MyBlogSpark, GM and Walmart.  

***CONTEST IS CLOSED.  Congrats to:
Cindy M said...My favorite Star Wars scene was when Princess Leia told Hans Solo shortly after they first met; that,she would rather kiss a Wookie! Hilarious.

Sundays in my City - How to Take Pictures of Reluctant Children edition

I love my camera so much that it sometimes surprises me that the whole world doesn't love it. And want me to take their picture with it. It's such a great camera! I'm not a professional photo by any means, but I think I can capture some great shots. I mostly have my camera in auto-mode, as my photo instructor told me that there's nothing wrong with that and the camera is smart enough to help adjust to get the best photo and that working on composition is a million times better. I think I believe her!

This weekend I was hanging out with a subject who wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with my wonderful camera:

LOVE this photo-esp the gift bag in the corner with the word Big! on it. And how his eye is caught between the fingers. And how his lower hand has natural fingers. And how the tiny toes are in the shot! LOVE it.

His parents said this is his norm. He just doesn't like his picture being taken. But I am a small-child-whisperer and was able to convince him to let me take multiple pictures of him.
 I actually was finished before he lost interest! If he had let me dress him up or take pictures in various places, I would have kept on snapping, but sometimes you just take what you can get.

So here's my non-professional-photo taker secret to working with reluctant tiny kids. I convince them to help me take a picture of something else. In this case, it was a bed full of stuffed animals. So we went through his bed and made sure to take a picture of And after a couple shots, I would show him the picture on the screen and tell him - look at how happy looks! Does anyone else want their picture taken? And he would get excited to get the next animal out. The first time I took a photo, he wasn't smiling. I showed him the photo and told him-oh no, the doggy didn't smile because YOU didn't smile. Should we try it again and see if he smiles for the photo? And he totally fell for it! Haha..foolish little boy.
He's a bit out of focus here, but it COULD have been a perfect shot. Love the bear nose sticking up in the back!
I like the colors on this one. It helps that his walls are painted like the sky.

LOVE this one. I will probably crop it down a bit and get rid of a ton of stuff.

This is outside of the photo shoot of stuffed animals. I totally got lucky on these and I think the key to taking these types of close-ups, which is really what I like, is to just shoot a LOT of pictures. I think I have 10 bad photos before I got this good one.
I was standing in front of him and had my camera hanging from my neck. I'd say: Do you want your picture taken? And he would frown at me and say No! And then I would just hit the shutter button-having the flash on-and then act surprised that it went off at all, which made him laugh-and then I'd hit the shutter again while he was laughing at my reaction. It means I have little control on whether he is actually fully in the shot or not, but whatever works to get the elusive smile, right? This really only held his interest for a short time, but I like two of the shots (from the 10 total I took in this one scene-which unfortunately had a chair behind him):

The next couple are some of my favorites because they feature my oh-so-handsome Andrew. I mean, really-look at how good looking he is!!

With a toddler who doesn't want his picture taken, you can't just have someone pick him up and expect him to smile. So Andrew picked him up from behind and maybe growled in his ear and swung him in a half-circle, giving him a good squeeze. I happened to get lucky again and this was one of the four I got (I'll crop out the bottom half for a final pic):
This was about 3 seconds later:
No babies were harmed in our photo taking. Not physically anyway.

For more views into other peoples world:

Unknown Mami

Another Volunteer Project...More Begging by Kaylen

Wow, a busy week!!! FINALLY over.

I spent a couple hours this week sending out requests for donations to random companies for my annual Martin Luther King Jr project. A quick recap - it's called Creation Station and is held at a low-income apartment complex for families. It had six different "stations" with different activities, like cooking healthy snacks, learning to crochet, making cards for terminally ill children, learning about first aid, etc. We really tried to impress upon them the message of giving back, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr's giving spirit. 

Last year was a great success -we had 125 people show up. That's a lot of lives to touch in one day, right? It was a lot of work to plan, but luckily I had a partner on it. This year I'm going solo, but it should be easier since it's not a new project and I have a better idea on what to expect.

When we did this project last year, we gathered all the needed supplies ourselves. I had a party where I asked everyone to bring medical supplies to donate-bandaid, antibiotic lotion, etc. That was perfect-people like to gather, and most people like to donate. Win-win for me. I even had some door prizes donated-which were a big hit and a nice bonus to our project. 

However, I don't really want to be the person who nags everyone to give to one of my crazy volunteer projects, so I'm hoping I can find some corporate sponsorship instead.

So far, I've emailed seven places. Within 24 hours, I got 2 rejections and 2 replies telling me to provide more information (a form letter, not anything encouraging). BUT - I did manage to get ONE gift basket donated!!! In under a day!!! Most places need at four to six weeks to get a donation approved so I really need to have all of my big corporate sponsor contacted in the next week or two. 

Anyone know of a company looking to donate? I know of a place looking for donations!!! Feel free to contact me for more information. 
Much obliged.

NaBloPoMo, Step Aside My Friend.

Wow....where did this year go??!! What the hell, yo? It's NOVEMBER already.
And it's not just November. It's November 2nd.
And I didn't blog yesterday.
This might not be news to most of you anyway, since I barely blog anymore....but this is November and every November for the last three years, I have participated in NaBloPoMo, where you blog every day in the month. It's a challenge to stretch your creativity, learn to expand your horizons in writing, push yourself to work hard at being a blogger. And what I just learned is that my horizons aren't expanding and I'm not stretching or pushing myself to blog.
I've just been BUSY. I think I say that every-single-time I blog. But it's true.

Here's what you missed so far this week (outside of boring work stuff):

Sunday - I can't remember. (I'm on lots of meds. I'm hoping that the memory issue is due to the cocktail I'm on). I guess there wasn't anything exciting going on...I must have went grocery shopping. I think I cooked dinner. I maybe did laundry. I think Ginger puked on the floor. We have kitty tummy issues lately (like for the last year. And only when on a white carpet.).

Monday - Bingo night!!! Best costume ever was the normally-quiet bingo guy who dressed up as a Wet T-shirt Winner. He was hilarious, the entire bingo hall was rolling on the floor laughing, or those of us under 65 were rolling on the floor-the others were just laughing in their rockers.

Tuesday - Foster Care Parenting Training #1: Introduction to Foster Care. Woohoo. Am I ready for that? Maybe....I have 16 hours of training to attend and then a 250 page interview, reference checks, criminal background checks, a home study, cat vaccination records (which we don't have at all right now), and THEN I will possibly be providing respite foster care for some wonderful kids who just need love, sweet love.

Wednesday - Went to cardiac rehab in the am, so I stayed late in cubicle-world. Then I drove way out to nowhere and ran a volunteer-type errand, where I was forced to recognize that my goal of the last three years of learning Spanish has not yet been met. I'm a total failure. So disappointing. Next year is MY YEAR to learn Spanish. Maybe I need to type my entire blog in Spanish. Yeah! Good way to practice. Stay tuned for La Vida de Kaylen!

Still to come...
Thursday - Getting my hippy-style hair done after work!! I literally have not had a hair cut/color since the week before Andrew's graduation. That was in JUNE, people!! I don't know many women who go this long without having their hair done. And I know a LOT of women who go on a six-week schedule., like regularly every six weeks! I would like to say my hair is just naturally wonderful and doesn't need all that fluff and stuff....clearly, right?
super cute hairstyle

NaBloPoMo...meh. Overrated. I'm going to try for blogging every other day. That's more original anyway. I'll call it BloPo. Yes. It's my own challenge. Join me?


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