Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I Really Want For My Birthday

Today is my birthday. (Yea!!)

About a week ago, The Angry Midget asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I told her a card and a Kit-Kat would be fine. I didn't really need anything.

Apparently her dad didn't think that was the real answer because he asked me the same question a few days later.

R: So I need to get something for a girlfriend who has a birthday coming up. She's in her mid thirties. What should I get for her?
Me: Well, what does she like?
R: Um, Facebook and I think magic tricks.
Me: Huh. Magic tricks? Really? 
Then there was some discussion of dirty magic tricks he could try. I'll spare you the details.
 Me: Seriously, a card and a Kit-Kat would be fine. I don't really need anything.

Once upon a time I used to want all kinds of stuff for my birthday.  A bike, a Walkman, long dangly earrings, the latest NKOTB tape, purple headphones for my Walkman, Barbies, MLPs... I always had a list at the ready. Now... now I'm old. And practical.
Caspian Interchangeable
Photo Credit:

Sure, there are a few things I'd love to have Knit Picks Harmony Needles and/or Caspian Needles are pretty close to the top of the list.

Harmony Interchangeable
Photo Credit:

But, there are bills to pay, and I already have a perfectly functional set of needles. These are clearly a want, not a need.

Then, as I was passing by The Angry Midget's Lair, I was struck by inspiration. I knew what I wanted for my birthday.

The request didn't go over very well.
Me: *in the car on the way home from school* I know what I want for my birthday.
TAM: What?!
Me: I want you and your dad to clean your room. Get rid of toys clothes and books that you have outgrown or don't want, and put your clothes in your dresser in an organized fashion.
TAM: Card and a Kit-Kat it is!

*Sigh* Maybe I'll have better luck with R...

Me: I know what I want for my birthday.
R: Too bad. I already got you your present. And your Christmas present too.
Me: Well, you can return it. This won't cost any money. I want you and TAM to clean her room.
R: Oh Man. No way. It's your turn I just cleaned her room last year.
Me: Um, yeah. I just cleaned her room a few weeks ago. It's your turn.
I'll let you know if I get what I asked for.

This is her room in it's current state.
There is still more mess behind me, but it was just too much for the panoramic photo app to handle.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Danger Baby Survives Her Third Year

Today is a special day.

Danger Baby has survived longer than I thought she would.  No, she's not sick. She doesn't have a syndrome that threatens her life, not really.

She just has no fear.

She embraces life and everything it throws at her, even the wildly dangerous things. There's a reason she has the nickname she does.

I loved her from the moment I saw her, and I will continue to love her as long as I draw breath.

She is my sunshine and my rain, my independant cuddler, my happy apple, my Little Miss Bossy Pants.

She is so smart. Every day, she amazes me with what she has learned.

I am so glad she is in my life, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for her.

Today she is three, though it has only been three years, I'm already forgetting how small she was when she was born. Thankfully, I have pictures. Lots of pictures.

Happy Birthday Danger Baby!
I love you!

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Two Year Old Has An Imaginary Boyfriend... I Blame Her Sister

The following is an actual conversation I just had with my 2 year old:

Danger Baby: *puts toy phone to my ear* Mama, this is my boyfriend, Nicky. He wants to talk to you.
Me: *has pretend conversation with imaginary boyfriend* *hands phone back*
DB: That is Nicky, he is my boyfriend. He is bigger than me, and he is older. He is your friend. Is he your boobie friend?

The hell?

What is a "boobie friend?"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Never Stop Remembering

Last year, my dad died. He died on Veteran's Day. This man, who was so strong in life, stopped fighting on the day set aside to honor the men and women who went off to strange places to fight for things that we take for granted every day.

My dad was a vet. He fought in Vietnam and came home to a country that hated him, but he had a family that loved him.

Even when he got sick and left us, I still loved him.

Even when I wished I couldn't, I still loved him.

Even when I was furious with him, I still loved him.

For four years after he left, I didn't speak to him. I wanted to. I missed him. I missed him desperately. But I had no idea where he was. I searched the internet weekly trying to find him, but all I could find was our old address. Our old phone number.

During those four years, I had a baby. I wanted to tell him about his new granddaughter. But I couldn't.

Four. Years. For four years, I couldn't talk to my dad.

Then, he died.

He died and I didn't get to say good-bye. He died and I didn't get to tell him I love him one more time. He died and I didn't get to hug him one more time. He died and he never knew about his granddaughter.

He was cremated before the wake. Before I even made it back home. Before there was any closure. I couldn't say good-bye. I couldn't see him one last time. I couldn't touch him.

For four years I grieved with the hope that I would find him in time to make things right. Now, now I grieve knowing that he died thinking I was mad at him. Thinking I didn't love him any more. Thinking I didn't want to be around him.

I have thirty years of memories of my dad. Thirty years of love. Thirty years of being Daddy's Little Girl. I try to remember those years, and not dwell on the last five.

It's hard.

It's really hard. And it sucks.

It sucks a lot.

And it's never going to stop being hard, and it's never going to stop sucking, because I'm never going to stop remembering.


My very first memory is with my dad. I was probably about two, and he was leaving his yellow pick-up truck at Dago’s shop, that’s when it was at the end of the street. We dropped of his truck, and I rode on his shoulders all the way home.

That was the first of thousands of memories I have of my dad. I remember when it was time for him to walk me down the aisle to give me away at my wedding. He came in to see if I was ready. He started to tear up when he saw me, and he told me I looked beautiful. I started to cry, and he pulled the biggest red hanky out of his pocket. As he handed me the hanky he said, “Don’t you start to cry, or I’ll start.” Of course by this point we both were a mess, but we gathered our composure, and finally made it out the door and down the aisle. We had a brief hang up as my dress and veil got caught on the arch and I was jerked to a stop half way down the aisle, but dad ran back to get me untangled. As he was leaning in to kiss my cheek before giving me away, he whispered, “You forgot to put your veil down.”

Four years later, he and my mum came out to Iowa to meet their newest granddaughter. Makaya had him right where she wanted him the first time he held her. She was so fussy, but when Grandpa Jim held her, she snuggled right into his beard, wound her fingers up in it and went to sleep. I knew at that moment, he had moved from my little finger to hers.

Iowa is about 13 hours away by car. That’s a lot of time to think, to remember.

My dad was a vet. He sacrificed years of his life in service to his country. He was wounded during that service, and he sacrificed even more of his life and health because of it, and my Mum, Elsie, was right there with him, nursing him back to health every time.

He carried those injuries and pain with him always, but he didn't let them stop him. He still rode his motorcycle as often as weather allowed, and sometimes even when other bikers would have left the bike at home. And he always flew the American flag and the POW MIA flag every time he rode. He was proud of his country, bought American, and voted to protect the constitutional rights of his fellow countrymen.

He was a gunsmith, and I was so proud of that. I used to hand out his business cards to everyone. It didn't occur to me until many years later that when you hand a guy your dad’s business card that clearly states what his profession is, he’s probably not going to call you for a date.

I remember asking him why he required photo ID when he sold a gun to someone he knew, to one of his friends. His response was, “How well do you ever really know someone? You've known me your whole life, how well do you know me?”

I was only in high school, but that stuck with me. I still think of that conversation often. He was right. How well do you ever really know someone? No matter how much I thought I knew about him, there was still so much more I didn't know. I would sit up at night and wait for him to get home so we could talk. I would find every reason I could to go places with him, and we would talk about anything and everything. I asked him all kinds of questions, and he always had an answer for me.

As far as I was concerned, my dad knew everything. If there was a song I was trying to figure out, I could call dad and he would know who sang it, and when. If I was having a problem with the car, I could call dad and he would help me figure it out so when I took it to the mechanic they wouldn't be able to pull a fast one. If something was going wrong with the house, I could call dad and he’d help me figure it out. When he would come out to visit, he would help Robert and I fix all sorts of things.

He loved chocolate covered cherry cordials and westerns, not just the movies, but the books too. He read Louis Lamoure’s books, he enjoyed John Wayne’s movies, and is the reason I’m a Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis fan.

He told great stories, and I loved hearing them. Stories about when he was growing up and the trouble he would get into, stories about people he met when he was in the service, my favorite was when he sat in a bar in Boston and drank Southern Comfort with Janis Joplin. Even if it was about something or someone at work that day, he could make it interesting. He had a gift.

He took me hunting, and shooting, and spent time with me. He taught me how to sit quietly in the woods and just watch, and how to shoot a rifle. He taught me how to use the sights on a handgun and about gun safety. He taught me how to change a tire, check my oil, and how to drive a standard. He taught me how to play poker and tried to teach me how to play Black jack, but my math skills weren't exactly up to par. He also taught me the art of sarcasm and how to be stubborn, or maybe that was something that was handed down in the genes. If I remember correctly, Grandma Boots was pretty sharp and no easy push over.

I regret that he never got to meet Wesleyann, that she won’t have any memories of her Grandpa Jim or pictures with him. I know he would have loved her just as much as he loved Makaya.

The past few years, dad was sick, and not himself. When Calvin passed on, I knew he was going into the arms of family that had gone before him, and that he would not be lonely. On Sunday, dad walked through the same gates, his body healed and whole, and Calvin was there to greet him with one of his wonderful hugs. I know this and I take comfort in it as I take comfort in the knowledge that when it is my turn, they will both be there, waiting for me.

James Robert Skinner Jr.
November 2, 1948--November 11, 2012
I love you, Dad

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Why Does My 9 Year Old Know The Word Transgender?

And more importantly, why am I so proud that she does?

Ahhh, where to begin? Do I start with how Chaz Bono is involved? Or do I start with my Facebook post?

I guess I'll start with my Facebook post since that's really why I'm writing this post.

"The angry Midget and I are watching the movie "Barnyard." It's an animated movie about a boy cow. 
A boy cow with an udder. 
When I pointed that out, she said (without missing a beat,) "Maybe he's a transgender cow."
I. Am. SOOO. Proud.
#raisingherright #nojudgementhere #readyfortherealworld"
This simple status update not only brought me back to a thought that I've had for years, but it was a thought that was echoed by others in my "Friend List" as well.

After I told  The Angry Midget I was proud of her for her statement, and that she not only knows the word "Transgender", but that she used it in a correct and non slanderous way she said, "Yeah. I probably know a lot of words kids my age don't know."

I thought about that for the briefest of moments and responded, "That's going to serve you well in life. Parents who shelter their children aren't doing them any favors."

I can see where these parents are coming from. I can. They want to teach them their beliefs. They want to protect them from all the scary things in the world. They want them to have the happy care free life of a child. I understand that, and can appreciate their efforts. But (there's always a "but") I wonder if they really are helping their child. If you don't expose your child (within reason and at an age appropriate level) to the things that are in the world they live in, you are setting them up for at best: a confusing, rude and shocking wake up, and at worst: complete failure.

I don't filter much with my kids. There are people who think I'm a horrible parent because of this.

"Swear" words? Yep, they have heard them all. They're just letters. They only have power if you give them power. (To be clear, I'm not talking about slurs. This is strictly "French" or "Sailor" vocabulary here.)

Body parts? We use the proper names for most things. Breasts are boobs, but boys have a penis, girls have a vagina. That's as technical as they are ready for at this point (especially the 2 year old.)

So, how does the word "transgender" factor into all of this, and what does Chaz Bono have to do with anything? I'll tell you.

You may remember a few years ago, Chaz Bono was on Dancing with the Stars, and there were a bunch of people who got their panties in a twist because a few years before that HE used to be a SHE, and wasn't Chaz but Chastity. There was all kinds of outrage because Chaz is confusing. Or rather his sexuality is. Apparently. And the children, MY GOD THE CHILDREN! They might see him and be confused. Because he dresses half as a man and half as a woman.

Oh, wait.

He doesn't do that? Seriously?


No matter, THE CHILDREN!!

After about five seconds of this garbage, I had had more than enough. People were freaking. The fuck. Out.

They wanted ABC to drop him. They threatened boycotts and lost their shit ALL OVER  the interwebs. Of course, Fox News was ten kinds of bent out of shape over this. *gasp* *shock*

So I put together an experiment of my own:

I pulled up a picture of the cast for that season, and showed it to TAM. I asked her if there was anything confusing in the picture. 
Answer: No, though there was some snark about a few of the poses and outfits (that's my girl.) 
Then I asked her if any of the women looked like men. 
Again: Nope. 
So then I asked her if any of the men looked like women. She picked Chaz out and said, "He does." 
"What makes you say that?"
"I saw it on tv. They were talking about him being a woman before."
"Had you not watched a report on tv about him, would he confuse you or stick out to you at all?" 
"No. Why would he? He just looks like a guy."

That's when we had the transgender conversation. We had already had the gay conversation, and had several other "hard" conversations about life and the world, so this really wasn't a big deal. It wasn't an in depth convo. I didn't break out hand puppets and diagrams. I just told her the basics. What she needed at that time, and left the door open for follow-up questions. She was happy, I was happy (and vindicated,) and we both were able to look each other in the eye afterwards.

So. Moral of the story? Your kids are a blank canvas and you are painting them into the people they will grow up to be. Don't paint a donkey on there. They're not as well liked, or as pretty, as horses.

Also, kids are smart and capable and adaptable. A LOT more than adults give them credit for, and than adults are in general.

I think we would all do well to remember that.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's NaNoWriMo Time Again

We have, yet again, come 'round to the Month of November.

For some this means more facial hair (or the unsuccessful attempt at more) in their lives, whether it's on their own face or their partner's. The photos and status updates have been... interesting, thus far.

For others it means Thanksgiving is fast approaching and so is all the excitement/joy/family togetherness/stress/anxiety/depression that goes along with it. My Facebook feed is filling up with posts about what people are thankful for, and what they plan to make for their big family gettogether.

Then there's the group who realize it's go time. That novel they planned to write "someday" isn't going to write itself. Those are the NaNoWriMo-ers. Those are the people who ignore everything but their notebooks or computers and the voices in their heads telling them to "WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!"

I am in my fifth year of NaNo, and while I'm struggling to get my word count (the goal is 50k in 30 days) I know I still have time to catch up. It's only the 6th after all. I'm letting my novel lead this time, and already in the first 1200 words, I've had two major surprises. I'm starting to like my novel. It's taking longer than usual, but it is happening, and for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Three-Year-Old's Reason For Liking Random Things

While getting Danger Baby into her diaper this afternoon, I had a very revealing conversation with her.

DB: Poop poop poop *grabs butt-cheeks* Mama I have to poop I have poops in my butt.
Me: *checks DB's butt* Nope, I don't see any poops.    
DB: Where are all my poops?  
Me: They're up here in your belly. *Squishes belly*  
DB: *laughs and squirms from tickles* I like poops. 
Me: You like poops? 
DB: Yeah. I like them. I like poops. A lot. 
Me: Why? Why do you like poops? 
DB: Because I like them. I just do. 
Me: Hmmm... Ok then. 

She has really been something else the last few days.


I told Robert about this, and of course, he had to ask her the same thing. "Why do you like poops? Poops are gross and stinky."

Her answer:
"No they're not! They're pretty and shiny and sparkly and blue! I love them!"

What the hell has this kid been eating??

Danger Baby Is Concerned About Your Lack Of Cats

While getting ready for the day, Danger Baby had some questions for me.

DB: Mama, do you like Pocahontas?
Me: Sure, I guess she's ok.
DB: I never met her, Mama! I love her! *crazy giggle* Do she have a cat? I want to pet her cat. Do she have a cat, Mama?
Me: No, she doesn't have a cat.
DB: Do Pocahontas have a cat? Mama?
Me: No, she does not have a cat. 
DB: Mama, Mama, can I see her cat? Do she have a cat?
Me: No. She. Does. Not. Have. A. Cat.
DB: Do Pocahontas have a cat?
DB: *runs just out of sight around bathroom door jam* *peeks back into bathroom* *whispers* She needs a cat. *runs off*

The hell?