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.

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.