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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