About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


today was the day i had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder. thanks to all of you who prayed for me, and thanks too for respecting my wishes for no visitors. i appreciate your care but really wanted to do this with some degree of privacy - although those gowns do not afford too much of that.

i am home and very grateful for the nerve block that has my shoulder and arm totally numb - i know i'm in for a lot of pain when that wears off later tonight. i am also bundled up in a crazy get-up and also have a sling that resembles half of a straight jacket - i guess i'm only half crazy afterall.

surgery went well as far as i know - i slept through it. after nurse rachett finally got the iv in the happy meds were great - made me feel drunk and gave me the hiccups

tomorrow i go back to the doc and then begin the long and brutal process of physical therapy - that will be the really hard part.

also thankful for brian who is sleeping om the floor in the living room so he can be available to help me during the night.

i have some good pain meds and a lot of them andd am glad for that. my doc is one of the best - they work in pro athletes so i'm in good hands. recovery for this is long and i'll be in this contraption for about 6 weeks but i should be better and have 2 arms ready to hold the twins by the time they arrive.

not sure if i will blog or facebook more - tonight it is easier to do that with a little window of pain-free time

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Our House

Wishing each of you a joyfilled Christmas.
"And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2: 10-11
If you click on the link below you will see a 360 view of our neighborhood with the first snow of the year, courtesy of Brian's new toy.
If you have Java you can see it, if you don't, you can download it for free.
Drag the mouse over the image to to move around

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Best Gift

I know this is Christmas Eve and I should post something about Christmas I suppose, but instead, I'm going to post about my best gift. No, its not the Jeep.

This year and for the past 26 years, my best gift has been my husband Brian. I know, that sounds really sappy and believe me, I'm not the sappy type at all, but this week he has gone WAAAYYYYY out of his way ... for me. I've heard him tell people that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and be willing to die for her so if being married is killing them, good. Well, its all about killed Brian this week.

This week Brian has put in hours ... long .... cold.... back-breaking ....hours building and reinforcing the fence to keep Gunner in our yard and out of the neighbor's yard. He has done that for the neighbors, who, although they haven't complained - yet, surely do not appreciate our dog being in their yard. He has done this for Gunner too so that he doesn't get into the street and get hit by a car, because think what you will, last night he was curled up on the couch with Gunner mumbling something about "daddy's baby". But mostly I think he has done it for me. He knows he'd have to deal with a very distraught wife if we lost Gunner.

Then, when that was all over, Brian took the past 3 days and the better part of two, to drive all over Cincinnati, haggle with dealer after dealer, and finally paid more than he meant to for a Jeep for me - just so I can have reliable transportation and be happy driving what I'm driving. We've driven a lot of Jeeps and talked to a lot of dealers, some nice, some not so nice, some willing to deal, most not. We were even test driving one Jeep when we along with the salesman witnessed a wreck. We stopped (not that we had a choice, we were very nearly involved in the wreck when the car spun toward us), prayed with the lady who was injured, gave our statements to the police, and then went on for the rest of the test drive. In the end, they wouldn't budge on their overpriced Jeep so we traveled on.

Finally to his delight and mine, he was able to haggle a pretty good deal ... we got this baby, an '08 Jeep Sahara in grey-blue with 27k miles for less than the blue book value of it.

Its fabulous! I love it. Its a nice gift under my tree this year - even though its not really a Christmas gift. But the real gift is Brian. Check out his brand new web site if you want to get to know him a bit more. http://www.brianburiff.com/

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Don't Want To Scare You But ....

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that line lately, I could probably go buy a new Jeep. I've got about a week before what by all accounts is a really bad time. So, I'm getting ready. Actually I don't mind when people tell me their experiences with rotator cuff surgery. I like hearing it. It doesn't scare me - just the opposite. I feel better if I have a vague idea of what's ahead. I realize everybody's injury is different, everybody's surgery is different, and everybody's experience is different, but knowing in general what to expect makes for less anxiety for me.

Since this began I've been all over the place. I've gone from "I don't want anybody to know until its all over" to "hmm... maybe I should make a video blog of the whole experience". My reasons for not wanting to tell others were simple - I don't like being fussed over. And I like my privacy when it comes to certain things. I think maybe because I live a lot of my life in public I like to keep some things private - like surgery when I feel and look and probably act my worst. The last thing in the world I want is people coming to "pray me in". Its nothing personal. I just will have less stress if there aren't people there. For that reason I wasn't going to tell anyone. BUT ... then I thought there would be a handful of people who might be hurt by that. And then I'd have to deal with their hurt feelings. SO ... I decided I'd just tell people and hope they respect my wishes. Either way I'll have to deal with people - this way seems to be the less troubling way for them and hopefully for me.

Then as things get closer I've been doing research about what to expect, and since I do live pretty much in the open, I thought maybe doing a video blog might help someone else who's facing this to know what to expect. Maybe I'd share some tips - like how in the world do you get dressed with this massive sling? You know, just stuff that might be helpful to somebody. I've still not decided whether I'll do that or not ... but its a thought.

So, I've got about a week. There are two things I would really like to take care of before surgery. I want to get my freezer full of some meals since I wont' be able to cook for while and even when I am feeling better I'll only have one arm to use. I have no idea how I'll cook with one arm but I'm guessing I'll come up with some creative ideas. Apparently I'll be in that sling for 6 weeks.

The other thing, and I'm seriously doubting this will happen - I'd like to get a new Jeep. Not a brand new one, mind you - those start out at about 25k. But my current Jeep has become a problem. Earlier in the year it gave me fits. We replaced part after part (it should be almost new by now) before we finally found that the little bitty part that was causing all the trouble was the air intake control valve ( or some such thing ). Our GOOD friend replaced that for us and she ran fine for a few months. Last week, it died again. Guess what, that same stupid little part went out again. So, its a '99 Jeep with 90k miles on it and I'm going to have to get rid of it at some point anyway, so may as well get rid of it while its still worth something and get a different one. Its really not a good time to do that but is it ever?

Some people think I'm crazy to get another Jeep. Yeah maybe, but I LOVE my Jeep. Love it! Other than my '67 Mustang its the only vehicle I've ever had that I truly LOVE. It'll go anywhere, snow isn't a problem at all (I used to park it in big snow piles just to have fun). I can see everything I need to see, unlike most cars that sit so high in the back you can't see out of the back window. My Jeep will turn on a dime too. The maneuverability is awesome. I can take the backseat out and haul cargo (backpacks and school supplies), or I can put the backseat in if I have to take the twins somewhere. And of course, I can take the top off if I just want to have fun.

Ideally, I'll get it back in the next day or so and then can sell it on Craigslist and then go buy another so that's one less thing to deal with when I recover. I won't be able to drive for a while after surgery so test driving won't be an option for me. With Christmas and all though, I doubt I'll get this all taken care of before surgery. Maybe the best I can do is go shopping and pick out a few and then while I recover, let Brian do the dealing.

Christmas 1991

This is still one of my favorite family Christmas videos. Gotta love the bed head going on in this one - and I have a lot of it with my 90's big hair.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Would Mary Say?

“Okay God, I’m trying to serve you here, so what’s up with this?” Ever felt that way? When you’re doing your best to follow Jesus and serve Him and things just keep going wrong and you can’t seem to catch a break? I have. Sometimes it seems like the more I work to help other people, the more things break around my own house. As it stands right now, my Jeep is broken down and its really not a good time to go into debt to get another one, we’re going to need a new roof in the next year or so, the living room furniture is getting pretty nasty (duct tape is holding the chair together), the carpet upstairs is as old as the house and way beyond nasty, and the dog keeps escaping the fence. I could go get a job. I might have to do that. The thing is, if I do, a lot of stuff for the Lakota people will have to go by the wayside. I’m not sure I’m ready to see that happen just yet.

That has been bugging me lately. I’m just getting tired of things not going right. I just getting tired of shabby. I’m getting tired of working harder to get further behind. I want to say, “God come on … give me a break here … I’m doing all this for You.” And then it occurred to me….

If anyone had a right to feel like a break was due her, Mary was. I mean, really, think about it …She chose to submit to the will of God for her life by bearing His son. She didn’t have to do that. She could have said “no, sorry, this isn’t a good time for me. I’m planning a wedding and people will not understand and it’ll be a really bad witness for you God. You’ll have to find somebody else”. But instead, she chose to submit to God’s will, trusting that He knew what He was doing.

And what did she get … trouble! The pregnancy came at the most inconvenient time possible, almost costing her her marriage to Joseph and even her very life. Jesus birth came at the most inconvenient time possible – after a long, grueling trip with no family or friends nearby. And it occurred in the most inconvenient place possible – a foul smelling stable filled with animal manure. Not one person in the town of Bethlehem had mercy on them. To be sure people saw the young couple and new that they had traveled far and that she was about to deliver a baby, yet not one single person offered them a helping hand. Every single person they approached for help turned them away. I don’t’ know about you but if I were Mary, I’d have a word or two with God about all that. I mean it was HIS son and He is ALL POWERFUL so I’d have to be wondering, “what gives?”.

But you know what? That kind of thinking comes from a feeling of entitlement. We think we’re entitled to a better way because of who we serve. Even though we may know better, we somehow think that things should be easier for us. Somehow the fact of the crucifixion escapes our memory. Yeah, even Jesus had a tough time here on earth.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Philippians 2:8-10 (The Message)

So, why in the world would anybody ever choose to serve God? Well, for starters that's not the whole story. Trouble isn't all you get. Sure, there'll be plenty of that but there are rewards too. And besides, I'm betting people who don't serve God have trouble too. In fact, I'm sure of it. And then there's the fact that there is simply no greater joy. You can't find that kind of joy in things. Not even your family can give you the joy that serving God brings. Yeah, things are tough but that's only part of the story. Maybe that’s why I’m not in a big hurry to go get a job and join the rat race of gathering more and nicer stuff. I’m just not convinced that’s better.

Wanderers Never Cease

Wanderers ... not wonders.
For the past 3 days Brian has been working hard at reinforcing the fence around the back yard to ensure that Gunner doesn't jump or climb over the fence anymore. It was a cold job. It was a hard job. For three days he worked on it and finally finished up last night just before dinner. We let the dogs out and sat down to eat. And within minutes Gunner was in the neighbor's yard. Somehow he managed to get under the fence. We thought we had that problem taken care of by placing lovely cinder blocks all around the base of the fence, but apparently with the over-the-fence option taken away from him, Gunner just worked a new way under.

Needless to say, Brian was exasperated, physically and mentally exhausted. He sat on the couch with a cup of coffee and shut his eyes. I think he was praying ... or maybe begging God to keep Gunner in our yard. He opened his eyes and Gunner was happily sitting on his lap drinking his coffee.

Gotta love that dog.

This morning I was at the grocery store and saw one of our neighbors. She just said, "hey" and laughed. She is all too aware of the trouble with Gunner.

Good thing he's a lovable dog.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Not Sure If I Should Have Watched This

but it is interesting to see what happens during rotator cuff surgery. Freaky stuff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mamma Said There Would Be Days Like This

Life is good - generally speaking. We've got it way better than a lot of folks. But, lately things are not going great for us. Its one of those times when no matter if you do try your darnedest, you just can't catch a break.

I wont talk about the other folks in my family who are having troubles but trust me, they're having them in a big way. I will tell you about mine though.

Yesterday I tore up my shoulder - again. I am scheduled for surgery and though I'm not looking forward to it, I'll be really, REALLY glad to get on with it and begin to put this behind me. Yesterday afternoon I was walking up the stairs - the dogs were going up with me and they were excited because we'd just come home. Somewhere amongst the 10 legs on the stairs I lost my balance and instinctively stuck out my arm to grab hold of the banister to catch my fall. OUCH. I shouldn't have done that. It ripped. I was instantly nauseous and got very dizzy and thought I might pass out. Live and learn, eh? Ice helps. Surgery will help more. Bring it ON already!

Today I went out to do some grocery shopping. I made it all the way to the next street when I noticed my Jeep wasn't sounding real good. It sounded a lot like it did this summer when we sank $1000 into it to keep it up and running. I decided to turn around and go back home before getting out on the highway when, just about then it died. Right in the middle of the street. Now the last thing I probably should be doing is pushing a dead Jeep, but ... what else are you going to do? So I put it in Neutral, got out and began pushing. An old man came out to help. I had my doubts that he'd be able to push it, but he did. Eventually I got it home my not taking my foot off of the accelerator until I was home. That was a ride and a half. No stopping or slowing down at stop signs. Thankfully it was just 2 streets with no traffic.

While I was making that crazy drive home my cell rang. No, I didn't answer it. It was my son who later told me that he bought a bogus gift card on Craigslist. Even though he met the person selling it at the store and went in the store to have the value verified, by the time he got to the checkout they had sucked all of the value off the card. NEVER buy a gift card on Craigslist. Its a scam - even if the store verifies the value is what they've told you it is. They have another code and can spend it before you get the stuff in your cart and get to the checkout. And of course, the police say there's nothing they can do.

So, I'm still sitting here with a sore shoulder and no Jeep.

Brian is outside reinforcing our fence. Gunner, our beloved dog has taken to climbing the fence. He doesn't do it to run away. He just likes to go visit the neighbor dog and he comes right back when we call him. Thankfully, we have a great neighbor who doesn't mind, but we figure if he can climb the fence on that side of the house, he can climb it on other sides too and the neighbor across the street isn't so nice. I think he might own a gun and he has a very bad temper. He used to stand in the street waving his arms with a red face and swearing like the jerk he is because one of my son's baseballs ROLLED into his yard. This is the man who actually told us to stay off his property even if he is laying in the yard having a heart attack. OK. Suit yourself. So anyway, we don't want to find out what this idiot might do to Gunner should Gunner should wander into his yard and say, take a leak. So Brian is out there raising the fence another foot and building a "shelf" into it that Gunner will hit his head on if he tries to jump over or climb over.
Pretty isn't it. I'm guessing this means that next Spring I'll be planting some big bushes in front of our version of doggie Alcatraz. (by the way, the lovely cement blocks around the bottom are to keep him from digging under the fence) Good thing he's adorable or he might be looking for a new home.
So, this too shall pass. And then there will probably be another problem. But good things will come around too. Eventually. Because life is neither all bad or all good.

A Conspiracy

There is a conspiracy at Christmastime. Are you part of it? I found out about it last year but its really not all that new. Its been going on for years among those who follow the real meaning of Christmas. But its making headlines now ... maybe you're heard of it. Its called The Advent Conspiracy.

Its all about how Christmas can still change the world - you know, like the first Christmas did.
The idea is to worship fully
spend less
give more
and love all.

For a lot of folks Christmas has become just a time of stress and debt. We buy gifts out of obligation, set expectations way too high and then are disappointed when it doesn't work out the way we imagined. You know the drill. I bet you've had a Christmas like that.

Somebody decided to remind us all what its really all about - kinda like Linus in a Charlie Brown Christmas. The idea is simple. Enter into the Christmas season with the purpose to worship God fully, to love the way He loved. Jesus loved the lost and the broken and the forgotten. By giving ONE less gift we can use those resources to give in some way that will benefit those who are less fortunate. We can give presence, rather than presents.

Now, like a lot of things, people can go all legalistic on this. I don't think that's the idea. Its not about making people feel guilty for buying their kids Christmas presents. No, the idea is really just Love.

Well shoot, they can explain it a lot better than I can. Check it out. Advent Consiracy

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't You Wish You're Girlfriend Was HOT Like Me?

OK, you know I'm kidding. But ya just gotta laugh at life sometimes. Here are a few of the oh so fashionable accessories that I'll be adding to my wardrobe in the near future.

Yeah, isn't that a lovely sling? Do you think they could possibly make it any bigger? That's obviously not me in the pic, but it is a pic of the sling I now have in my possession and will be taking with me to surgery. I'll wake up with it on ... oh, and here's the good part - I get to get dressed with it under my shirt for a while. That's just gonna be too cute. I asked the lady at the doctor's office yesterday how to dress for surgery and she told me to get a really big man's button up shirt to put on over the sling. Hmmm... I don't know when I get to graduate to wearing it over my clothes but hopefully I won't be walking around looking like a freak for too long.

And I'll be adding some hats to my wardrobe too. Hats are cool. I have a Sturgis baseball style hat, a Jeep hat, a "Life is Good" hat - I wear these on the Rez when I don't have time to do hair. I also have a cute little black hat that I got in Ireland when the wind was just too strong to deal with as we walked around Derry. And I've now added a black newsboy hat like the one pictured here. Do I like hats? Not so much really but I like them better than I like my hair when I can't fix it. Now I don't know if its true or not but I've heard that I'm not going to be able to move my arm into a position necessary to fix my hair for, get this, 6 WEEKS! That's a lot of hats.

Will I be blogging during this time. But of course. I only need one hand to type. :]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dashing Through the Snow in a ... Jeep and Ford Focus!

Its COLD here today. Really cold. And there is some light snow dancing around out there too. The perfect setting for playing Santa.

Brian and I loaded up the Jeep and his Ford Focus with 4 GIANT boxes filled with gifts for a family on the Rez and then started on our way to the Post Office where we received lots of strange looks from people and met a guy with a real white beard, a healthy size belly, tiny glasses, and a Santa hat! Kids, Santa is real - I saw him today at the Fairfield Post Office and he's going to be really busy delivering lots of presents this Christmas.

Oh, and even though it's a government building and all they were playing real Christmas music (O Holy Night) and they wished us a real "Merry Christmas" too! What's the world coming to?

*Thanks to all of you who bought gifts for this family. This fall 2 of the seven kids were living in a car and I can tell you that this summer they were truly HUNGRY. I'm betting they've never had Christmas gifts before. Thanks to you all, this Christmas each of the seven kids will have 6 gifts and a stocking full of goodies. They are also getting cookies and hot chocolate mix!

Monday, December 07, 2009

You GO Girl!!

I don't know if you know it or not, but somewhere in a city not too terribly far from where I live, there is this lady ... she's incredible ... she's a wife of a police officer, a mother to 3 adorable kids who say the darnedest things, a photographer, a gifted writer, and now I find that she is also an athlete. You really have to read this article on her blog - she didn't write it, her husband did. It'll amaze you. It'll inspire you. It'll challenge you. And it'll give you a peek into the life of this amazing woman!

Yay!!! GO KARIN!!!!
Now where did those old running shoes go? I may just have to dig them out and maybe join her next year for the Spina Bifida 5K ....

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Merry Christmas to my Friend Who Plays a Mean Air Guitar

A Step Back in Time

Yesterday was a good day. It was a long day, but a good one. To start off with, met a friend for lunch in Dry Ridge, KY. This wasn't just any friend though - she was a friend from back in the day that I hadn't seen in 20 years or so. We somehow lost track of each other and earlier this year she found me through Facebook. Its been great catching up with her on Facebook, but there's nothing like seeing her again in person. We caught up on our families and talked over old times marveling that either of us managed to survive those days. That's all I'll say about that. ;) To think that we're now two old ladies eating lunch at Cracker Barrel is, well, pretty amazing.

Then it was back to Ohio to meet up with another friend and drive to Lebanon, OH to take in their Christmas Candlelight Carriage parade. I'm sure its something to see - if you can see it. Lebanon is a beautiful historic town that is the perfect place for a horse drawn carriage parade. The dozens of little shops brimming with antiques offer a welcome escape from the cold. All in all, it was beautiful - except for the crowd. Wow. I have no idea where all those people come from, but to be honest, I would have enjoyed it much more if it hadn't been so crowded.

It was fun hanging with my friend though. We took Brian's Ford Focus because my Jeep is lacking heat. I thought I'd show her how the sync system worked so I pushed the button and said, "USB Line In, play Christmas". Of course I got the message "I didn't understand what you said" from the nice lady in the computer so I repeated it a few times, getting louder each time. My friend who has no idea about such things started laughing because she thought I was cussing out the car calling it a "You SOB". Once she realized that I was saying USB, as in USB cable, and once I realized she thought I was saying something else, we both cracked up.

So, yeah, it was a good day.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2 Baby Boys 20 Weeks

20 weeks
12 oz each

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Diaper Cake: Part Two

I couldn't wait. I wanted to. But .... I really tried to wait till tomorrow to find out if the babies are boys or girls or one of each, but ... I just couldn't. So I am working on the diaper cake. So far, this is what I've got. The tiers are wrapped in green receiving blankets with ribbons around them. IF they turn out to be girls ... I may have to go get some pink ribbon and change that. Either way I've still got a ways to go on it. There's little decorations to add ... in time. I'll post a pic of the finished product when I get there. Here's part one.

Oh Christmas Tree

Decorating the tree is kinda like a walk down memory lane. Our tree is decorated with simple red glass balls, red bead garland, homemade fabric "rag" garland, and lots and lots of ornaments that have been given to us by various people over the years. Here are a few of my favorites ...

This one was made my Helen Spradling.
Remember her and Oscar? Love those folks and miss them lots.

This is one I bought for Brian our first year of marriage because he loves trains

And then there are the ornaments made by the kids.
If they're still in one piece like this one, they go up.

Cody's first Christmas ornament given to us my the Talley's - who were really good friends
in Alabama

And Logan's first Christmas ornament. Love it!

This one was given to me by my best friend in Alabama.
I've since lost touch with her. How does that happen?

This one I gave to Brian last year. Its a pic of him and Job, the little
Haitian child he fell in love with

And this one was given to me by my cousin Phyllis. Its just too cute!

These are just a few of the ornaments that remind me of people that have been part of our lives. It makes a chore (decorating the tree) something nice to look forward to.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Work and Stess

I just read yet another article that lists the most stressful jobs that pay poorly. Although I am not employed, I do work - hard. True, the fall is my "down time" when I'm not as busy, but the other 9 months more than make up for it. I'm not complaining mind you. I love what I do. If I didn't, I wouldn't do it. I'd go out and get a job and have some more money in my pocket. As it is, I'm broke - always, but I'm happy.

That's not to say that I don't get stressed out. I do. A lot of the time. I don't worry about "stuff" that I can't control, which is most everything, but most of my work involves people and we all know how difficult people can be.

It was funny reading this list because I find myself in 3 of the top 10 positions. Here is what I do ...

Special Events Coordinator
Median pay: $35,900
% who say their job is stressful: 75%

I coordinate trips to the Rez and I coordinate the REZonate Music Fest. I am VERY GRATEFUL for a wonderful team of people who work hard on REZonate, but I'm the person who is ultimately responsible - which means I get all the glory at times and all the crap at other times. That's OK with me. I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing even if not everyone "gets it".

Median pay: $42,700
% who say their job is stressful: 67%

Again, this is me. I HATE this job. I wish I were a multi-millionaire so I could just pay for all the ministry stuff and be done with it. I'd MUCH rather just give my own money than to ask people for theirs, but I don't have that much. Its the part of my "job" that I truly HATE. By the way ... these folks may $42,700 a year?? Hmm...

Median pay:$45,300
% who say their job is stressful: 71%

OK, I'm not a licensed or ordained minister. I'm not even an employed minister. But I am married to one and like it or not - that makes me a part of it. I like it OK. My church is fantastic for allowing me to be who I am. I am NOT your typical pastor's wife. I'm not even your typical Associate Pastor's wife. My church makes it pretty easy .... BUT .... I could really do without all the people who get their panties in a bunch over really stupid, petty things and then threaten "I'm just going to leave the church". I hate that. Its so manipulative and immature. I want to say - "GO AHEAD, nobody's standing in your way. Let me get that door for you on your way out". By the way, its my experience that people who say they're going to leave the church are just using that as a manipulation tactic to get whatever it is they want. People who leave the church, just leave it. They don't threaten to. The act of threatening to do so blows these folks cover and shows that they really want things to go their way and will use manipulation to get it. There are all kinds of reasons to leave a church - some good and some bad but throwing this threat around is a sure sign that this is a person who is going to be a problem wherever they go - may as well go be somebody else's problem. I know, we should be patient and loving and all that. There's a big difference in loving somebody and enabling their immaturity.

I've had jobs before. I've done everything from work at Cinnabon to drive a bread truck to working retail. My last job was taking care of two developmentally disabled women. It was a hoot. Really. I loved the job but management made it miserable. I have stories about this job ... many of them are somewhere on this blog. Take care of a 30 year old, severely retarded, bi-polar, schizophrenic person sometime - its a hoot. Oh and that was just ONE of the ladies I took care of.

So ...what was your most stressful job?

Diaper Cake: Part One

Well, I've begun. And I've got to say its a lot easier than I expected. I've only got two of the three tiers that I'll do, but here's a sneak peak at what's going on. Next week we (hopefully) find out if they are girls, boys, or one of each, and that will determine the decorations for the diaper cake.
Top Tier
Middle Tier (yes that's tp in the middle - I'll eventually replace that with something else - what can I say - ya work with what ya got.).
Two tiers stacked
It'll have wide ribbon around each tier and cute decorations
and a stuffed animal (or two) at the top.

The cool thing about these is that not only are they cute but every part of it can be used!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Every Now and Then

Every now and then I get a creative itch. Once in a while these ideas I get turn out OK, and other times, not so much. I've been researching my latest idea and I think I'm gonna give it a try.

Allison is having a baby shower in January and I want to try to make a diaper cake for her. They are really cute and a great way to give a practical gift in a creative way. I'll let ya know if it turns out or if it ends up that I just give Allison a bunch of opened diapers that have been manhandled.

I do enjoy doing stuff like this. When Shelly (from Pine Ridge) was here in Sept. our crew had a dinner at Richard's Pizza so we could all have time to visit with her. Richard's provided the dinner buffet and I provided the desert. Since I think of sunflowers when I think of the Rez, I made these little "dirt cake" flower pots. The pic isn't too good thanks to my phone camera but they did turn out pretty cute - or at least I thought so.

And when Logan graduated from the Criminal Justice program at Butler Tech, instead of a traditional cake I made a doughnut tower. It seemed fitting for a future cop in training. I think somebody got to it before this pic was taken but you get the idea...

So, next up is the diaper cake. I'll let you know how it goes ....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eat It Up

Tomorrow is the traditional turkey day here in America. May you each have too much to eat and enjoy your family.

We had our Thanksgiving before Halloween this year. That was because my son was getting ready to head off to boot camp and would not be here on the big day. As it turned out, I was in the kitchen making pies (the one pictured here as a matter of fact) when he told me he was not going to the Army. So, we had Thanksgiving before Halloween for no good reason. BUT I am thankful that he's here and not at boot camp. Tomorrow we'll eat sandwiches and chicken wings and watch football and I think probably make a trip to Walmart to get a gift for one of the kids on the Rez. Sounds good to me.

I was thinking about other Thanksgivings we have had. A couple of years ago we had a family from Liberia over to share the meal with. It was fun. The lady was living in Liberia with her husband, son and brand new baby girl when the rebels came to their village. They fled for their lives and in the chaos, became separated from each other. She and her two children ended up in a refugee camp and were later sent to America to live. That was 6 or 7 years ago now and she still has no idea what ever happened to her husband. No word of if he is dead or alive or where he might be. I'm not sure how you go on after that, but she is doing a good job of it. She's a remarkable lady and its been a blessing knowing her.

When they were over for Thanksgiving dinner that day my husband thought he'd be really funny and ask how they celebrate Thanksgiving in Liberia. He was expecting to hear "we don't because the pilgrims didn't land there" or something like that but was surprised to hear that they do indeed celebrate Thanksgiving in Liberia. You see, Liberia was founded by freed slaves from the United States. The word "Liberia" is from the Latin and means "free". Also, the capital of Liberia is Monrovia - named after President James Monroe.

I have other Thanksgiving memories too - I was born on Thanksgiving Day - at noon! NO, that does NOT make me a turkey. And my family will recall the day my uncle was going to kill the turkeys for Thanksgiving and I had a fit. Really, an out and out fit to the point where they had to call my mom to come and get me and take me home. My youngest son must have taken after me because when he was little (he'll kill me for this) we all sat down to eat Thanksgiving dinner and he began to cry because the turkey had to die.

Those are just a few of mine.

So, what are your Thanksgiving memories?

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Week in the Life

So ... I forget to update here as often as I should, but for anyone who is interested in our crazy life ... here's what's happening this week.

  • Brian is better. He no longer looks like something from a horror movie. Whatever the doc gave him worked and he's back to normal and I have to say he "brought it" last Sunday night at church.
  • Went to the funeral of a really sweet lady this week. Phyllis we're sure going to miss you.
  • Cody (my oldest son) sent me a text saying, "I just castrated a pig". I asked him if he had a ball. He and Allison are in Ill. on the farm where her parents live. Last time he was there he stared down a 1300 pound steer. They're going to make a country boy out of him if he doesn't die first.
  • This is a bit more than a week ago, but for anyone who hasn't heard - Logan decided not to go into the Army (much to his mother's relief). The plan is to go to the Police Academy. I'm still not sure why he changed his mind but I suspect it has something to do with a pretty blonde that's been around our house for a while now. He now has a old Chevy truck that runs fairly well except that it leaks some kind of fluid and the driver's door requires holding it shut as he's driving down the road.
  • My dad's PSA is back up and the pill (which I think is a form of chemo) is not kicking it so ... its back to IV chemo starting next week. It'll be a lower dose once a week rather than the really strong stuff he was getting before so hopefully it will do the job and not kick his butt as bad as it did before.
  • I have messed up my shoulder somehow. Got the results from the MRI yesterday ... I have a torn rotator cuff and a bone spur on my shoulder that is banging against the arm bone (forgive the less than techy lingo) and causing some bruising and swelling in the arm bone. Got a cortisone shot and will start PT ... do 3 weeks of that and if that doesn't fix it (nobody including the doc thinks it will), I'll have to have it fixed.
  • I've suddenly gotten quite busy with Pine Ridge stuff again. So much for a break. We have 7 kids to have people buy gifts for and a fundraiser for the work project coming up. Me, I'm having a blast playing Santa to the kids. I LOVE this stuff. Its SO much fun!
  • Gunner is back in his "cone". I'm really ready for this dog to get back to normal but probably not as ready as he is.

Life is good ... hard sometimes but good and its anybody's guess what'll happen around here in the next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Making A List and Checking it Twice

Please see this post on the Pine Ridge blog to see how you can make Christmas special for Hammer and his brothers and sisters. Y'all know Hammer, right?

Problem People and Just Plain Jerks

If you work anywhere in the vicinity of other people you will eventually run into a "problem person". You know the one's I'm talking about. They make life miserable for everyone else. It may be your coworker or your neighbor or (hopefully not), your spouse.

I don't know about your experiences, but I do know about mine so that's what I'll talk about here and maybe, something here will help you too?? Or maybe not. As they say in AA, take what works and leave the rest.

My most aggravating experiences with PPs have been on mission trips. Imagine that! These PPs have come in many flavors ... sometimes they are just lazy and don't want to pull their share of the work. Sometimes they think they know better what we should be doing and how to do it than the folks who have been there for years. Or maybe they just whine and fuss and throw little hissy fits because things aren't going the way they their way.

When I was new at this, these people bugged me. A lot. I had no idea how to handle them and it would stress me out and caused me to wonder why in the world I do what I do - because I don't really have to put myself through the torture of it all. I choose to do it because its the right thing to do and because I have the time to do it, and because I care. But I don't have to do it. I could just as easily choose not to do it and leave the headache to someone else. And ya know what? I would really be OK with that. Leadership is not a perk folks, its a pain in the backside a lot of the time... ok, all the time.

Truth be known, PPs still bug me. A lot. And they still stress me out ... but not as much as they used to. I've learned something that I think is a good way to deal with them - give them some rope. That's right. Let them go do their thing and show everybody what a butt they are, because you know what? People do know. So a lot of the time if you just give 'em enough rope they'll hang themselves.

Now sometimes some PPs will go a step further. Sometimes they see it as their God-given mission to let the world know how horrible the situation is - or how horrible you are. In those situations you've got to have really, REALLY... REALLY... FIRM... boundaries. And you've got to realize that you do not have to fight these people. Oh its tempting. Its tempting to get on their level and start doing likewise. Its tempting to let everyone know that they are just hearing part of a story and not the whole story. Its tempting to defend yourself and its tempting to defend your ministry. But if you do that you will look like as much of a butt as they are because people in general are really pretty much aware. People are quick to get someone's number. So again - let 'em go. Yeah, some people will sympathize with them and maybe even some people will believe them. It's OK ... they'll find out soon enough.

Its not your ministry to defend anyway.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meet Us @ Starbucks!

We would love for you to join us!

Beginning Sunday, Nov.22

9:00 am - 10:15am

A "Boundaries" Refresher class


Starbucks in Cobblewood Plaza
Winton Rd. and I-275

Saturday, November 14, 2009

If There is an Upside ...

I wasn't going to tell anyone. Actually, I had hoped it would just "go away" on its own, but after 6 months of aggravation I decided maybe it was time to see a doctor. Duh! I know, I know ...I'm terrible about going to see any doctor. I generally have to be absolutely and completely convinced that there is no getting better without a doctor's help before I will finally break down and go. The thing is, I don't have time for this. I simply don't have time to deal with ill heath. No time for doctor visits, no time for the treatment, and I can't STAND for people to fuss over me. Last time I went to a doctor I got chewed out pretty good for not getting regular exams - especially since both of my parents have had cancer. "Are you just stupid or what?" were his exact words. You might say.

BUT, this week it was time.

And I must say ... I am SO IMPRESSED with the doctors I'm seeing. After checking my insurance to see who was covered I made the appointment and yesterday I went in to Beacon Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. All I have to say is WOW .... these folks are SO efficient, SO friendly, and SO good at what they do.

I literally walked two doors down the hall from the exam room to get X-rays and then after seeing the doctor was walked by the Physician Assistant across the hall to get an appointment for an MRI.

Turns out, as I expected, I have a bone spur and a torn rotator cuff. The MRI will tell more about it and then we'll decide what direction to take. The doc just looked at me like I was a bit crazy when he found out it had been going on for 6 months. I didn't tell him I went skydiving with this injury.

Then this morning I was laying on the couch watching the morning news. The sports segment was on and since I could care less about Who Dey or the Reds or any other team in Cincy, I was doing my best to ignore it ... until I heard a familiar name - Dr. Kremcheck. Everyone in Cincy knows him because he's as famous as his patients are. He isn't my doc but one of his partners is and Beacon is his group. (My doc used to work with the Pittsburgh Steelers so I'm thinking I'm in very good hands.) Dr. Kremcheck was on the news this morning talking about the new PT room at Beacon Springdale (where I'll likely be going) and talking about how its intense one-on-one treatment particularly for people with rotator cuff injuries or knee replacements. Apparently its not uncommon for their more famous patients, professional athletes, to be there and that they all walk around talking to the other patients there, check out scars and such. He said you just never know who you'll run into there. Hmm... I'm thinking that if some pro athlete walks up to talk to me during PT I will probably offend the heck out of him because I won't know them from Adam. I used to be a big baseball fan, had all the baseball cards and the whole deal but ... well, don't get me started about what has ruined baseball.

So while I'm not looking forward to the time I'm probably going to have to put in to get better, if there is an upside its definitely that I've got access to some really, really good doctors.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I LOVE This Lady!

Some of you may already know Regi but for those of you who don't, let me tell ya, she is one very awesome lady! She has done all sorts of wild and wonderful things that have made a huge difference to a lot of people. Currently her and her husband run a homeless shelter in a Southern California gang infested neighborhood. I'm so glad to see that she is blogging again! Check her blog out here and check her new dreadlocks too! I wanna be Regi when I grow up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Twenty Little Fingers, Twenty Little Toes

Here are the latest pics of the twins. I'm not sure which is which. We still don't know the gender and it is still possible that they are identical. Time will tell. Next month we get the 3D pics!

Alien baby?

This one is my favorite pic

Sunday, November 08, 2009

I'm a Real Biker Now!

I must be a real biker now. I went to church this morning and a good friend gave me this beauty because she was out shopping, saw it, and thought of me! (insert big grin)

I love it! I've got a place on top of my desk all picked out for it so I can see it often. Its actually sitting next to another bike that a friend saw and "thought of me". Hmm ... do you see a pattern here??

Then, not five minutes later, a little girl who's daddy is the Vice President of the Teamsters Motorcycle Association here in Cincy passed me in the hallway and said, "Hey Amber, are you going to be at the TMA meeting today?" Ha! She must think I'm really a biker or something (I did go to a few of their meetings when we were working on REZonate and the TMA did our charity bike ride for us. Too funny though...

Unfortunately I am not a real biker. I only dream of Harleys. When I get a few thousand extra bucks I'll buy one though, you wait and see. Until then, I'm just a wannabe.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The More You Know

Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer - almost twice as many.

Lung Cancer is the leading cancer killer of women and men in the US, taking more lives than breast, prostate, and colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined.

Although it is commonly thought of as a smoker's cancer, as much as 25% of lung cancers are found in people who have never smoked.

Symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • a cough that won't go away
  • recurring respiratory infections such as pneumonia
  • chest, shoulder or back pain that won't go away
  • unexplained wheezing
  • shortness of breath or hoarseness
  • coughing up blood
  • swelling in the neck or face
  • difficulty swallowing
  • unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
  • increasing fatigue or weakness
  • unexplained recurrent headaches
  • seizures
  • bone pain

Early detection is important because lung cancer rarely displays symptoms until the disease is in the later stages.

Check out this article for more information about early detection stratagies.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Honor or Dishonor

Did you see the headlines about the Iraqi man who purposely ran down his daughter with a Jeep Cherokee because she was too "Westernized"? He tried to flee to Britain but was returned to the U.S. where he was taken into custody. His daughter meanwhile was hospitalized in serious condition and later died from her injuries. What a crazy world.

I'm not sure if this is an Islamic thing or not, but I am sure as in any religion, that there are those in Islam that would condemn this action and those who would defend it. Every religion, including Christianity has its share of nut balls who take things to the extreme.

Unbelievably the dad, now facing charges in his daughter's death, defends his actions. "By his own admission, this was an intentional act, and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family," the prosecutor said. "This was an attempt at an honor killing."

This story is disturbing on so many levels. Let's leave the obvious one for a little later and look at a few others. I've got to wonder .... how is it that this man can come to America and "dishonor" our laws by assaulting and killing his adult daughter because she chose to live her life differently than he would have liked? This is America! We value freedom here. How "honorable" can it possibly be to act in ways that dishonor the laws of a country in the name of an "honor killing"? See the absurdity of it. It looks ludicrous even in print.

It also strikes me that the dad's reasoning completely left out his God. His reason for killing her was that "she was bringing shame on him and his family". What about what his God wanted??

I wonder if people will maybe take Rifqa Bary a little more seriously now? Remember her? She was the 17 year old girl who converted to Christianity and then fled to Florida because she was convinced that her Muslim father would be forced to kill her for dishonoring the family. Whether he would or not, who knows but she was convinced.

These stories are obviously disturbing because for most of us killing our children for any reason is unthinkable. Most of us spend our lives protecting our children (or trying to) and live with the fear that something bad will happen to them. So yes, to most of us these stories are simply hideous.

But I've got to wonder .... is there not a deeper issue at work here? In short, are we all that different when it comes to wanting to control the choices our children make? Think about it - how many times have you heard cruel and harmful things spoken to a kid because they weren't living up to someones expectations? Never mind that the thing we are really worried about is us and not them. We don't want our children's behavior to reflect badly on us, do we? In truth, its our own behavior that reflects what we're really made of - not our kid's.

And so in the name of defending and honoring our values we do the most dishonorable thing and murder a soul. And well, I've gotta believe that dishonors our God, who is the author of free will, in a big way too.

If you think this is a stretch, maybe it is, but I challenge you - next time your child does something you don't approve of, listen to what comes out of your mouth and see how it would feel if those words were said to you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friends and Foes ... Listen Up

You all know I have recently become hooked on skydiving ... and if you know me then you know I'm always trying to find a way to combine the things I love with the things I'm passionate about - namely Pine Ridge. So ... I'm going to jump for charity! When donations to Backpacks For Pine Ridge reach $500 I will jump out of a plane (with a parachute). You have to go to the link below and donate in order for it to count toward the jump. You can however, always donate directly to Backpacks For Pine Ridge on our web site - it just won't count toward the jump. Either way is fine with me because either way the kids on the Rez win.

So, if you're my friend, this is a good opportunity for you to donate a few dollars and help the kids at Pine Ridge and allow me to do something I love. And if you're my enemy ... well ... donate to help the kids and know that I'll be jumping out of a plane.

Just follow the link below (or on the sidebar) and watch the altimeter go up as donations go up. Oh and if you're like me and love to skydive or have ever wanted to give it a try, you can sign up too and get your own altimeter going. Just be sure to click on Backpacks For Pine Ridge as the charity you want to jump for when you sign up.

Visit My Donation Page! Click Here

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The SCARY Thing About Halloween

I love Halloween. I know, in some of the more legalistic Christian circles, that's not a popular thing to say, but I'm not legalistic so I'll say what I want and I happen to love Halloween. I am well aware of the evil behind its origins and all that stuff that some people like to bring up but I'm also completely aware of the fact that dressing up and having a party and eating candy and taking kids trick-or-treating is not about anything evil. Enough of that.

As I was saying, I love Halloween. I love the crisp weather. I love the beautiful leaves. I love dressing up in silly costumes. I love the parties. I used to love taking my kids trick-or-treating (I really miss that), and I love the candy. I even love the spooky old movies that are more silly than spooky. But you know what's really scary about Halloween this year? The price of candy! Is it me or is the price of Halloween candy higher this year? I just got back from Walmart and wow ... candy prices seem to be higher than usual.

Tomorrow night is the party at church for all the kids. We all bring candy for around 120 kids. Since I'm of the mind set that there is no such thing as too much candy and since I'd rather not have to tell some little kid that I ran out, I buy for around 150. If there's some left over. Not a problem. I know how to take care of that. I also buy enough candy for both me and Brian to give it out to the kids so I usually buy around 300 fun sized candy bars. And I like to buy the good stuff. Who wants a bag full of junk Halloween candy, right? Normally I buy Reeses and M&M's. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I saw that a bag of Reeses was $5 this year and only has 25 bars in it! That would add up pretty quickly. I could have easily spent $65 on candy. So, I still bought decent candy (Nestle, Payday, etc.) and I still bought enough for both of us to give out but there will be no Reeses or M&M's in the mix this year. Bummer.
BTW, are those two little guys not the CUTEST kids ever?? Never mind answering, I know they are. They're mine. :)

Goin' to the Dogs

Poor Gunner had a really bad day last Tuesday. He got neutered. Since then he's been pretty much zonked out on pain meds. When he's not sleeping off a buzz he's peeing and pooping all over the house. Doesn't matter how many times we take him out, he still manages to make a mess in the house. Just this morning he went out and peed 4 times only to come back in the house and pee 2 huge lakes of urine in the house ... and then poop. I can't get mad at him. I mean, look at him. He's pitiful. So I grab a towel and mop it up. Now I'm going broke buying laundry detergent and can't get my usual laundry done because the pee towels are always in the wash. Oh and the floors ... well, let's just say its a good thing we're replacing the flooring until he's over this.

And then there's Taser, our beautiful and very girly girl German Shepherd. She's been outside playing while Gunner stays inside and gets pampered. Neither of them are happy with this arrangement. She wants to be inside and he wants to be outside so they sit on either side of the patio door and cry at each other. And I have a hunch that Taser, although she's not the brightest dog in the world, has figured out that Gunner is getting pampered because he's "hurt" so she's taken to limping. There seems to be nothing really wrong with her paw - no abnormality, no cut, no sticker stuck in it, but she's limping anyway. It could be she sprained it. Or it could be that she's faking it to get attention. Actually, as I type this, she's standing perfectly fine on the back deck barking at a squirrel. I'm going with the idea that she's faking it.


For those of you not on Facebook or keeping up with this in other ways, I posted all the wild and wonderful things that happened this year here. And that doesn't even take into account the trip to PR or my personal life! Crazy...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Happen to Know Some Really COOL People

This afternoon we packed food for Kids Against Hunger that our group will take to Haiti next October when they go over to the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. All in all, we packed 21,000 meals! I've been to Haiti and helped distribute food to the people who are literally starving there ... its one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. What can I say ... once you've done that, its just not something you forget. Ever. It was good today to be able to be a small part of that again.

It was good too to see Bill back from D.C. Back from the WHITE HOUSE no less. I didn't get to see his award but did get to talk to him about his time there and he passed on this article that appeared in the LA Times about it. Very cool stuff.
And this weekend I missed out on something I wish I could have been a part of. It wasn't my 30th HS reunion but it was something close - a gathering of old friends from my hometown. I've known these folks for ... well, for all my life. I hope they don't mind that I snagged one of the pics from Facebook. Looks like they all had a great time. These are good people. People I should have gone back and hung out with.