Service that Counts

Somehow I thought it might end up being a bad day yesterday.

When I woke up to internet issues, my first thought was "Oh this can't be'll be downhill from here."

Fortunately, the day wasn't all bad as Ty and I got to go to an awesome little boy's birthday party (pics to come either later tonight or tomorrow), we played at Nana & PaPaw's, where Ty also got to swim and have fun. And Nana cooked us a meal fit for royalty. The trajedy that occurred last night was the only other bad thing to happen on an otherwise good day.

It took, overall, 8 1/2 hours, 6 techs, and 9 Windstream reps overall to get my internet back up though.

I had one that gave up after the first step in his manual didn't work out. He seemed like he didn't want to have to deal with my problems, so he passed me off to a salesperson, who rerouted me to another tech person. This woman was sweet and literally tried everything. After reaching the end of everything she knew to do, she asked if she could get with her supervisor and see if he thought it was my computer or their modem.

I assured them that it was not my computer. I broadcast a wireless signal in my house. If it were my computer, I would still be able to connect with my Wii console as well as my iPaq . If it were my computer, I would still be able to connect with any other device because my modem and router would still be broadcasting that signal, as usual. If it were my modem or router, I wouldn't be able to connect with any of the devices. And since I had bypassed my router and plugged straight into my modem and still got nothing, it wasn't my computer or my router, and thus it wasn't, as tech support guy #4 told me, "my problem" to "deal with and fix" on my own.

Number 5 insulted me and told me I didn't know what I was doing when I followed her insructions step-by-step and the real-life steps didn't include the steps that whatever book she was referencing from was telling her to instruct me to do. So she got an attitude and treated me like I was stupid for listening to her.

Perhaps I was.

So I requested someone else.

Who tried to get me to pay for assistance.

I told him I was paying for the service, they could provide the assistance as a courtesy.

So lastly I was passed over to Christian.

I knew good things were about to happen when I got Christian on the line.


Because he let me tell him the whole thing. The problems, the methods I've tried, the things that haven't worked, as well as the belief that I didn't feel it was my computer because I didn't think that my NIC and Wireless card would both go out at the exact same time and my computer not kick up any errors or diagnostics about it.

And I knew good things were going to happen because Christian listened.

He heard my problem, he listened to my logic, and he said "You know what, I believe you're right, so we're going to try a few more things."

And within 5-10 minutes, Christian was my BFF because he got it fixed. And all he had to do was listen to me and forget the idea that I might be some stupid customer who doesn't know anything about computers. Instead he listened to me as a valuable customer who just might actually know what she's talking about.

Kudos to Christian. He was my saving grace with Windstream yesterday.

Average, Ordinary, Everyday Superhero

My town suffered a tragedy tonight.

I was at my parents house when the phone rang. Everyone was outside and I saw on the caller ID that it was my brother-in-law.

He told me that The Bakery....THE Bakery....if you know Fordyce, you know The Bakery....Klappenbach Bakery was on fire.

Here's where I, as well as any readers who know The Bakery, will pause for a moment of overwhelming emotion. There is no Fordyce without Klappenbach Bakery. It's just wrong. It's like orange grass or a green sun, it's just wrong.

But here, right here, is where I get goose bumps.

Because I just don't think Fordyce would let a Fordyce without The Bakery happen.

Quite a few members of the community went down to the bakery to spectate, to assist, to console, and to support.

The Fordyce Volunteer Fire Department was present, as well as a neighboring community's fire department, Cooterneck Volunteer Fire Department.

This is where the title comes from.

These men are amazing.


Anyone from this area knows that our volunteer firemen are EXCEPTIONAL.

[goosebumps just overran my body, seriously]

So these men are out there, sweating. While we're all worrying about a Fordyce without The Bakery, they're working their butts off to help ensure that there will be no Fordyce without The Bakery.

They're getting electricity shut off and checking neighboring offices, stores, and locations in the building. They're a pact of brothers. I didn't notice there being a separation of Fordyce Fire Department and Cooterneck Fire Department. It was just The Firemen. The Heroes. Working mostly wordlessly, but with an air about them that left a swell of awe and pride and respect in my heart.

These men are heroes.

Thankfully, no lives were in danger trapped in this burning building. There was no one hurt and no animals to rescue from the flames. But these men still went and committed and gave their all.

While I'm so sad and hurt for the Klappenbachs who are facing this heartbreak, I am so proud that I got to witness these men in action.

And on our way back to the car, we stopped and a crowd of people joined hands and formed what started out as a small circle and grew to a much larger circle of neighbors, family, and friends. After we circled around and joined hands, a local pastor prayed a prayer for the family and the business and the whole incident.

And walking away, I couldn't help but think "God, thank you for this fire. I don't yet know what You're going to accomplish for it, but I know it will be great and it will be wonderful and it will be for the best. So thank you for this fire."

Fruits of My Labor

So I just had to share some shots of the flowers and plants in my yard for you all to see and enjoy!

Learning to Live with Me

I have a bunch of online friends that I've shared my life with for the past three years. They get to read my intimate thoughts and they get to know me on a level that many people in my every-day life don't even know exists. And as well as they know me and as well as I know them, sometimes it's easy to feel like we don't know each other at all because we've only been there for part of the story.

So I decided to write a "brief" life story. That was the intention, at least. I was thinking that surely I could condense things down enough.

Apparently I didn't realize how long-winded I can be.

I was in a much more secure forum there, a place where I get to choose who sees what I write. Obviously I can't have that comfort level here in a public forum with no restrictions to my audience. So names will be changed or removed but I'm going to try to leave everything as intact as possible so that you can get a better idea of me and how I came to be me.

This is my life as I remember it as I've seen it and as I've felt and lived it. I'm sure some things are romanticized in a few areas and glazed over in others, but it's my life from my perspective.

Of course if I touched on everything you'd be reading for days, so just know ahead of time that there are quite a few things left out that I'll have to go into at a later date.

So sit back, get a cup of coffee, and enjoy, but keep in mind....this is a tremendous step for me to make so much of my life so public....please be respectful of that.

I came into the world in the old fashioned way. One man, one woman.....ten months gestational period. Yes, ten. I was due December 14, 1981. They even tried to induce me on New Year's Eve of 1981. Setting precedence for the rest of my life, I did things my way, no matter how hard they tried. And on the 8th of January I made my entrance into the world.

I grew up in a tiny, disappearing town in Northeast Oklahoma. Picher. Everything you've heard about it on the news is absurd and slanted, ignore it.

Picher is the place of my fondest memories.

I grew up in a house of love, with a close-knit family, and in a community that looked out for each other. It was a Mayberry kind of town. Actually, Rascal Flatts' song Mayberry is somewhat based on Picher from what I'm told. (Joe Don Rooney, their guitarist, is from my home-town)

Daddy had a game-breeder's license with the State of Oklahoma. He raised chickens, ducks, turkeys, pheasants, name it, we likely had it. I had a pet rooster named Chips that I adopted in my younger years, carrying it around like a baby, laid on its back with its feet up in the air. I also had a pet mallard (duck) named Quankers, and in about 1st or 2nd grade, we welcomed a pet raccoon into our menagerie of pets. I named him Ricky-Ticky-Timbo-Nosarimbo. (My teacher had read us the book Tikki Tikki Tembo the day my dad brought him home, so my imagination ran wild when it came to naming him)

My hometown originated as a mining town, so the area is scattered with huge (or what used to be huge) hills or almost-mountains of gravel and chat left over from the mining process of the town's early history. We called these Chat Piles. There were two just south of my house. When it iced or we got a good, packed snow, the whole community would converge on the chat piles for an amazing time of sledding, tubing, and rocketing down the chat, piles.

There would be different heights that we would go down, a "bunny hill" of sorts for the little kids or big babies, a medium hill for the braver kids or adults that had a healthy respect for their own life, and then a typically ridiculously tall and steep hill with a ramp at the bottom that my dad and uncle almost exclusively shared. (Is it any wonder my dad was always in and out of the hospital all the time?) When it snowed, my dad would get us out in the yard and build snowmen and igloos. We'd have to go outside in spurts. As any kid, we'd stay out there until we were half-frozen, then make our way inside to thaw out and put warm, dry clothes on. Once our fingers returned to their normal skin color, we were out again.

My whole family originally lived within minutes of each other. My maternal grandpa, Papa, lived a block and a half up the alley from us. My other grandma lived all the way across town.....maybe a mile away, if that tells you how small Picher was (although, believe me, I'm not a good judge of distance). Get-togethers at both grandparents seem, looking back, to be pretty regular, although I have more memories at my Grandma & Pa's (Daddy's parents). There were more kids in that side of family. All of us grandkids spent our days either swimming in the pool, riding bikes or dirt bikes, or walking the trails on the Indian land behind grandma's. Fishing was common, as well. In the summers, normally at a holiday get-together, us girls would go through my aunt Michelle's clothes and put on a dress show that we made all the adults sit down and endure.

Before I started school, my aunt Carolyn babysat me while my mom taught school and my dad worked at the hospital across the state line in Baxter Springs, Kansas. This is where I met R., my childhood best friend. When we started kindergarten, we only went half-days, so my aunt would pick us up from kindergarten. R. was friends with a boy from the afternoon kindergarten class. We'd pass this boy as we were leaving and since R. liked him, I knew I had to like him. I took it a step further, however. I was crazy for that boy for 5 years. And never let him know it because my best girl-friend fell for him in 1st grade, before I ever even had the first class with him (we were never in the same class until 2nd grade)

The summer after third grade, we uprooted and moved to Arkansas. I had no clue my parents had been entertaining any notion of moving so I felt more than justified at my hatred for the whole situation. I hated Arkansas and I would refuse to be happy here. And I did just that for a long, long time.

I had a difficult time adjusting. I went from a small community of less than 1500.....about 50 students in my entire class to a community of almost 5,000 and almost three-times as many students in my class. Back home everyone was either white or Indian and I was taught that we're all essentially the same, no matter what our skin color. So I thought that everyone grew up just like me, believed just like me, behaved just like me, and thought just like me.

I was in shock for a couple of years as I adjusted to the very different lifestyles and behaviors that I came in contact with. Not everyone was taught to respect, to listen, to be fair. Not everyone was reasonable or logical or even half-way decent. Back home, if the teacher stepped out of the classroom that just meant we could talk to each other in a voice somewhere between a whisper and a conversational voice. Down here, when the teacher stepped out of the classroom, the students were jumping, screaming, throwing stuff (not just paper or pencils), hitting each was ridiculous to say the least.

I never really found a group of friends that fit me. Never have, actually, in the 17 years we've been here. I had one group of friends for grade school, another for junior high, yet another for college, and still another and another and another for the years since then.

In Junior high I convinced my dad to buy me a horse. I don't remember how I came to want one, but he 'rented' a horse for me to ride for several months to make sure it wasn't just a phase I was going to grow out of. It was the best thing we ever did for me or that poor bony horse. While under our care her skeleton began to disappear and she started to look like a real horse again. I named her Wonder, because it was a wonder she was alive. After it was established that this wasn't a phase, we bought my first horse. We owned my first horse for about 15 minutes. We went to a horse sale and from the second I laid eyes on her, she was mine. Number 237. She was a buckskin with a doll-face and a beautiful build. I told Daddy that was the one I wanted, the price was in our range so that's the one I got. Right after we bought her, a man told Daddy that he didn't want to put me on that horse because she was straight off the race-track. Daddy turned around and sold her to the guy bidding against him. I think we've both regretted not keeping her and seeing what she was capable of.

A short time later, we bought a black Tennessee Walking Horse. I named her Pride. (Got this name from a series of horse books I'd been reading). She was a good horse. Stubborn and wouldn't run unless you just made her. She was a gaited Walking Horse. I wanted a running horse. But I made do. In the meantime, Daddy set his eyes on a buckskin horse he wanted for himself. The guy wanted too much for her by herself, but Daddy was able to buy her and her half-brother for barely more than he wanted for the one horse alone. So it was a done deal. The buckskin was his, and her brother, a feisty two-year old, was just another mouth to feed.

Once Daddy got Dollar, the buckskin, broke well enough to let other kids ride her, he started breaking the brother, Bo Jangles. He barely had him broke before I was demanding my turn on his back. He resisted and resisted. We disagreed a few times, but I never gave up. I never backed down. I'm pretty sure it was one of those "Fine, have it your way" moments when my dad finally agreed to let me on Bo Jangles' back.

I crawled up on the horse, who was barely more than green-broke, and held my own. The next time we rode, I wanted him saddled with my saddle. We went to a horse sale a short time later, which was about a monthly occurrence at this time, and Daddy bought a couple of hackamore bits for Pride, my walking horse. She didn't like a bit in her mouth, so this was perfect for her because instead of having the metal bar in her mouth, this "bit" only put pressure on the side of her nose to let her know which way to go.

The next time we rode, I wanted a hackamore on Bo. We hadn't found a bit he would work well with, so I wanted to try it on Bo to see if it would help him. Daddy thought I was crazy. The horse couldn't be controlled WITH a bit, he certainly wasn't going to be able to be controlled without one. He later described what happened as if you had jacked up the old horse and slid a brand new horse right under him.

I knew in my heart that Bo Jangles was my horse from that moment on. And he was a running horse.

During Junior High and Senior High, my sister and I were active in the youth group at our church. Sunday nights after church Daddy and I went and loaded up the horses and brought them into the arena. There would normally be upwards from eight kids lined up along the fence of the arena. Three or four of the boys rode our horses in horse shows with me, only one other was ever able to handle the still wild-hearted Bo Jangles. The others normally rode Dollar, Bo's sister, or Sierra, another horse we'd come to acquire. Those that weren't practicing for the shows with us, normally rode Pride or one of the other horses we'd had at the time (at one point we had either 11 or 13 horses, though not all were old enough to be ridden).

Daddy and I would go nightly to feed the horses. It was one of the favorite times of my life. Still is. And most nights, especially during the summer, after feeding or riding the horses, we'd stop at the gas station on the way back and he'd get him a Peach Nehi and I'd get a Black Cherry Clearly Canadian. Happy memories of simple times.

I stopped showing in about 10th grade. Other things occupied my time. Boys was high among them. I've always missed it though.

In high school I was a band nerd. But that wasn't a bad thing at the time. Our band was the biggest it'd ever been. We got over 130 people in it at one time. Our shows were amazing. In 10th grade, our half-time show was a group of Beatles songs. Our football team crashed through the rally-sign and onto the field to "Eye of the Tiger". I remember it being a lot like he football movies you see, Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights, We Are Marshall. The atmosphere at the games during those years was electric. At those times, during those years, being a band nerd was amazing. Away games were always a blast. There was such comradely. Everyone had fun. And as with anything to do with high school, there was always flutters of sitting near that certain guy. And even when that wasn't the case, or even when seats were assigned, you still had fun because that's all we knew at the time.

My junior year, the band director (that had built the band into what it was over the 5 years she'd been there) had a baby and found work elsewhere. Closer to where she lived, 45 miles away. The band director that replaced her was a polar opposite from the director I loved. I quit half-way through my senior year because of the way he treated the students. Since then our virtually nonexistent band seems to focus more on gyrating hips and tacky dance moves than it does the music and the discipline and the comradely.

I was 16 when I decided that I wanted a job. My sister had worked at the local radio station for a couple of months collecting news from the local law-enforcement agencies but she was switching jobs to work more hours at the local hospital in their bookkeeping office. So I took her job as "Investigative Reporter". I went to the Police Department, Court Clerk's Office, and Sheriff's Office every day to collect the news. I worked 3 hours on a long day, so it's not like it was really work. Besides, I got to look at all those young guys in the city uniform, even though they were far too old for me.

In 1996 my parents bought some land and started building a house the following year. We moved in December 19th, 1997.

I worked at the Radio Station for several years, even working two jobs my senior year when I started as a clerk at a local grocery store. Eventually I gave up the radio station for the bigger paycheck.

I graduated Salutatorian of my class in 2000. I found out the night before graduation. I had less than 24 hours to write what I personally thought was the best speech of our graduating class (I could be biased though, plus I had some really great help from my parents). Not many in my graduating class were really close. We were friends more with the classes graduating before and after us. There were never any real bonds between classmates. I didn't focus my speech on fabricating such stories, I focused my speech on what was coming, on the life that awaited us. A speech I still read over from time to time.

I commuted to college, 50 miles away, for the first year and a half. Then I decided to get a job in my college town and take an apartment up there. I lived in Monticello during the week and made the obligatory drive home every.weekend.

In the summer of 2001 I went on a trip to New York City with a group of Criminal Justice majors. It was a blast! We went and we did and we had a time of it. I was the only one on the trip that didn't drink, so that made things more entertaining for me.

November 2001 through April 2002 was my longest run of doctor visits. It started with a strained shoulder and a chest infection in the winter months. In late-January or early-February, I rolled over one morning to turn the alarm clock off and heard a loud popping/snapping sound. An explosion of pain shot through my chest, leaving starbursts of every color before my eyes. I'd been having issues with popping in my chest for a couple of months, but it was nothing more than the sound of a joint popping, with no discomfort whatsoever, except it was at my sternum where no joint was present. This time was very different. It hurt for days and I eventually went to the doctor over it. No one seemed to really buy that it happened as innocently as it did.

We did x-ray after x-ray. On February 27th, my grandfather's birthday, I had the bone-scan done that made it appear I had a tumor on my sternum, right beside my heart. The twenty-four hours after that was the.most alone and afraid I'd ever been. But the good news came the next day, on my sister's birthday, that whatever it was, it was not a tumor. Eventually the Dr. diagnosed that one set of ribs had grown ever-so-slightly longer than the other set of ribs, causing my sternum to be offset at an angle. The snapping and pain I felt when I rolled over that morning was at least 2 of my ribs dislocating.

In March I broke my hand four-wheeler riding with my then-boyfriend. It was late and we were crossing a creek. He was on a four-wheeler behind me. Some other kids had ridden back there and rutted it up pretty bad, so I was trying to straddle the ruts to keep from getting stuck. My back tire slipped in a rut and the oversized Polaris Sportsman 4x4 rolled over on top of me in the creek (yes, I know just how lucky I was!). Fortunately the boyfriend got the four-wheeler off of me. There was no way I was going back across the creek and taking the shortest distance home, so we continued on the trail we were going, which would take about 2-miles to get home, instead of just under one. My hand hurt, but I was okay. I thought I'd just sprained it, nothing I couldn't hide from my parents. No sense in letting them know just HOW stupid I was. Driving with only one hand, I got stuck a few times. Eventually my four-wheeler got so stuck that we had to leave it. We rode back to the house and got my dad to get him to come help us get it out. It was almost 10pm by this time on a Sunday night. When I met Daddy at the door, I told him I thought I'd hurt my hand but that I was going to sleep on it. He asked and almost insisted on taking me to the ER, but I told him it wasn't that bad. It couldn't be broken because I could still move it.

So I slept on it and during the night it turned a rainbow of colors and distorted in shape and size. The next morning I drove myself to the doctor 30 minutes away. I had to hurry, I had an appointment in Little Rock that afternoon with a specialist who was confirming the Dr's diagnosis on the dislocated ribs. My mom called to check on me and was shocked when I told her I'd be home as soon as they finished putting my cast on.

The first cast, a blue cast was later traded for a white one. I kept having intense burning sensations, to the point that I really thought I had open sores underneath the cast. They cut it off to make sure. My skin was red and irritated, but otherwise intact, so they replaced it with a white one. This has always been important in my mind because my cousin Jerrid was the first one to sign my white cast.

The Sunday after I got my white cast on my grandma called early that morning to tell us that my Jerrid had been in a wreck.

Who knew my life would change from that moment on......

Jerrid had been in a wreck and was life-flighted to Wichita., Kansas At first they weren't sure he was going to make it. Then they knew his back was broken and he would be paralyzed, but they didn't know to what extent he would be paralyzed. He had died twice since the wreck but they eventually got him stabilized. He was out of the woods, but he was paralyzed from the abdomen down.

I talked to him daily on the phone. He told me "I love you" for the first time ever. And we told each other from then on out. He promised me some cherry yogurt if I came to see him. I would never dream of telling him I couldn't stand yogurt. The next weekend my family loaded in the car and drove to see him. No one knew we were coming. No one knew to expect us. We walked in and Jerrid's face lit up.

"I knew you were coming".

It felt like we shared a connection.

He insisted that I sit beside him and hold his hand. He'd had a scare before we got there and he wanted my comfort as much as I wanted his. His lungs had backed up with fluid and his subclavian port had come out, shooting blood everywhere. He coded and flat-lined, but fortunately they revived him. All was not lost. To think of the heartache we would have walked in to had things turned out differently. But they didn't. We walked into a room of smiles and relief.

We spelled off my aunt and grandparents, who had been staying with Jerrid. We sent them home for rest. I slept on the hard, cold floor beside his bed that night. Beside the pump that had failed to keep his lungs drained. He and I were both so afraid of a repeat performance that I don't think either of us slept.

He dubbed me "Turbo" while I was up there. I never knew just why, but it was perfectly fine with me, because it was Jerrid. I started thinking more about him. Thinking about taking care of him. Thinking about maybe moving up there someday. It could be me and Jerrid against the world.

We continued to talk virtually every-day. Jerrid moved from the hospital into a rehab unit where all the nurses were swooning at his smile. He totally had the bad-guy thing down pat, and now he had one heck of a battle wound to show for it. The girls had a hard time resisting him, even in his Kawasaki-green wheel-chair.

Late that summer, early into the fall, my parents made a discovery that shook their world. One of their employees and trusted friends had stolen a very significant amount of money from the Nursing Home that my parents owned. And she never touched a penny. She found a glitch and used it to write check after check after check. She forged and altered bank documents so that my parents didn't realize it for months. She had one more check printed when my mom found out.

That one check would have sunk everything my parents had ever worked so hard for.

My mom was reeling from the betrayal of someone she considered to be such a friend. And yet she composed herself and she set out on a mission and even though I'm sure she struggled with bitterness, she overcame what could very easily have destroyed her. In doing so, she set an example I would always aspire to follow.

Fall of 2002, my family was in from Oklahoma and Kansas for the Brookshire Family opening weekend of deer season. My cousin, Josh, brought a friend with him that had come the year before, too. Only this year his friend was single.

It was the only time in my lifetime that I can remember being so forward with a guy. And the only time a guy's shown his butt quite the way he did. Once he mooned me, I felt obligated to let him know what I thought of him. I found a reason to drive back to my apartment one day, insisting he ride with me for the two-hour roundtrip. On the way back we'd been talking and I stopped by a lake to show him a place I went to regularly. We got out and were walking down the bank of the lake when he stopped and wrapped his arms around me. After a few seconds of whispered words, he leaned his head in and kissed me.

It was over from there. At least for me. The night before they left, I gave him strict instructions to wake me up before they pulled out to head for home. Home for him was 11 hours away. He woke me up and gave me his phone number. We talked almost every day. No, we talked every day. I got a weekend off in December and drove to where he lived to spend the weekend with him. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment things. I called him, asked his plans, and asked if I would be interfering. He seemed legitimately excited, so I packed my bags, called my aunt to see if I could stay the weekend with them and asked for directions. I'm sure it was around then that it became quite obvious I'd never felt this way about a guy before.

I went up there and we had a great time. He took me to see Just Married one evening. Another evening, he took me with him to his company Christmas party. I was crazy about him in that "I can't keep my eyes off of you" kind of way and he seemed to have the same trouble of it.

For Christmas, my family always met at Grandma's house in Picher. He came down with my family. Jerrid brought his new girlfriend with him. It snowed and iced that Christmas. My cousins, Josh, John, and Chris as well as myself and The Boy went to the chat-piles. We sled all day. Then The Boy and I went to Miami to see a movie with my cousin Lisa and one of her friends. After that, we came back to Grandma's. Jerrid wanted me to come sleep in Grandma & Pa's bed with him. I chose to be in closer proximity with The Boy instead, afraid if I stayed with Jerrid that I would be awake all night talking.

The Boy and I continued on as ever after that. We never once argued. It seemed we were perfectly matched in everything but that he was at the point where he was ready for a wife and a home and a family. I absolutely would not consider marriage until I was done with college. But I was scheduled to graduate in December. Twelve months wasn't a long time.

But in the end my heart was broken. I was hurt so bad that I couldn't even begin to think a nice thought towards him if I had a gun to my head, even though I knew in my heart that it was no fault of his or my own that "we" weren't meant to be.

I was determined to get over it so I focused my thoughts anywhere else but on him.

That following summer I quit my job, gave up my apartment, and asked my aunt for a place to stay for the summer. She readily agreed and so I was off to Kansas. Though they never said it, I once thought my parents were afraid that I was going there to try to win The Boy back. They never knew that the only motivation he had in it was that I wanted to be able to face him and get over the hurt that still occasionally struck me.

On the drive to Kansas I vowed to myself to be the kind of person that people would consider themselves better off for having known. I wanted to infect everyone with my smile. To be the kind of person no one could help but to be friends with.

Anyway. I went jogging almost every evening. I put on my shorts and a t-shirt or tank top and would jog a mile, sometimes two miles. I'd either jog out by the lake or I'd jog at the school. On one particular night I'd just gotten done jogging at the school. I was emptying a cold bottle of water as I pulled into my aunt's house and--to my horror--had to park next to his truck.

"Not a problem," I told myself. Life had gone on without him and that wasn't going to change simply because he was in the one place I'd considered would be safe from him. I put on my game face and got out of the truck, smiling politely with a casual greeting as I walked past him and my uncle to join my aunt and her friend in the front yard.

I put on my smile, kicked back in my chair and propped my legs up in front of me. It couldn't have been better timed that he drove past us just as I was laughing out loud at something one of them had said. He honked and I glanced over with a quick wave. I couldn't have looked happier at that moment. Life went on without him. And for some reason it was so important to me that he know that...that he know my life was not ruined simply because he was not in it. (See, I've always been one to put too much thought and emphasis into things that other people never even realize has any meaning to me!)

That evening my uncle told me he was engaged and I found myself bracing for a wave of pain that never came. I had moved on, I had healed.

The summer passed far too quick. I made so many friends and--for once--was the person I'd set out to be. Several times I found myself in the center of so many of the get-togethers. I was an outsider, which seemed to make me a novelty. If they didn't love me for my accent, they loved me for my smile and my laugh and my quirks. I remember two of them being awed by my ability to disappear when I wanted, too. The spotlight would get too much for me. The attention would be too overwhelming sometimes to the point that if I didn't want to be seen, I'd simply choose not to be. They never figured that out. They never learned how I did it either, which, I think only added to my appeal.

I was the girl who had her heart broken and survived. I went home a better person for it.

That fall I started a job at the Sheriff's Office, where I now work. I went back for what I'd planned to be my last semester of school. I was going to graduate early because I'd taken college courses in high school and had tested out of two Comp courses. My scholarship would carry through to the following semester. I looked at it and saw that one more semester would give me a minor in Criminal Justice. So I went for it. It was free, anyway.

That winter, though, my world changed again. In November all the guys came down for hunting season again. Except The Ex, now.

I'd gotten so busy with school and work that Jerrid and I hadn't talked since early October. He was enrolled in college at this time, too. My cousin, Josh, told me Jerrid's girlfriend had broken up with Jerrid and he'd taken it pretty hard.

It became one of those things that you meant to do but never thought to do....calling Jerrid, I mean. Every time I thought about it, it was never a good time. So I put off for tomorrow what I should have done that day.

December came and I still hadn't found time for my cousin. One night that month I was headed home from visiting an old friend. It was about 4:00 in the morning when I was driving home and had the overwhelming urge to call Jerrid.

But that was silly. Jerrid would be asleep.

So I put off for tomorrow.........and tomorrow, he was gone.

Shortly after I had the urge to call him, he took his life.

My dad broke the news to me before church the next day and I slipped into zombie mode. I remember crying and falling to pieces in my room, but having the distinct feeling that I was being cradled in the arms of someone. Of course, my faith tells me exactly what happened at that time. Exactly Who was holding me.

We left for Kansas Monday. The services was on Thursday. I tried to keep myself composed. My friends from that summer and The Ex were all there and I just didn't want any of them seeing me as anything less than composed. I looked at the slideshow of my loved Jerrid. The cry caught in my throat and tears slipped over my lashes and then I felt the tug on me as my aunt turned around and made me come sit with her. She gave me Jerrid's sweatshirt to cry into, to hold onto. And while I still fell to pieces, I had my family there to hold me--to hold each other--together as well.

[my heart is knotted up inside my throat just typing this]

And as it always does, life went on and the world continued to turn.

In July, the Brookshire family had their first reunion in years.

The following fall, in 2004, my grandfather (my Dad's dad) was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. He had weeks, not months. Hospice was called in and he was sent home with a death sentence over his head. My dad, having been back and forth to Oklahoma and dealing with the stress of it, chose not to let it interfere with our travel plans for Paris. It was a good opportunity to get some distance, to regroup and compose ourselves. So we set off for the best trip of our lives. We spent a week in Paris and then returned to face the reality of it all. I hadn't seen my grandpa since July. I knew he had lost weight, it was obvious in July that he had. I was not prepared for what I saw when we went to Oklahoma and I went into their bedroom.

::deep breath::

When I walked into my grandparents room, I expected bad. I saw much worse than I had ever imagined. The strong, virile man I'd known all my life was gone. In his place was a skeleton with familiar skin draped over it. He was comatose....

I should probably skip this part of the story. It's just too hard to relive it. Anyway, I went back to Arkansas that Sunday. I had both work and school the next day. So I went home to a empty house.

It was too quiet.

So I went to the Sheriff's Office to talk to the dispatcher working, who happened to be someone that I'd dated briefly earlier in the year. But this night, as I sought a friend to talk to and to give me some comforting words, I found none with him.

So I went home and cried my eyes out into a hot shower. I tried to lay down but all I could think about was the skeleton of my grandpa's body.....

I thought about who I could get to come sit with me for a few hours, watch a movie or distract myself with idle conversation. The only people I could reach were males, and I wasn't too sure that was a good idea. Who knew what inappropriate things might happen in the state I was in. But beggars can't be choosers and sometimes the things we're afraid might happen are exactly the things that happen.

The following night I was sitting at the computer when the phone rang. It was my sister's first anniversary and she was calling. She was coming by.

That meant one thing.

As I saw their headlights come up the driveway, I felt a strange feeling, not physically but almost like the "walking on a grave" feeling, but it was in the pit of my belly. Before I could completely process it, that thought was forced out of my mind by the fact that I now knew, without being told, that my Pa was dead.

A few weeks later, a new guy came around. He was young. I didn't really know about getting into that. But he pushed past my reservations, and once he was there, I kind of liked him there. I fell hard and fast for him.

A complication came up shortly after when I took a test I'd been putting off taking for almost two weeks, a test that I'm certain I knew the results of the minute I had that weird sensation in my stomach the night my grandfather died five weeks earlier.

Yep, I was preggers. But I didn't think I was ready to tell my family just yet because Daddy had just lost his dad and the annual Brookshire Opening Weekend of hunting season get-together was coming up. And this would be the first one without Pa. I didn't want my unexpected news to complicate things even further.

But I had to tell someone. I was afraid that the idea of abortion would enter my mind, and if someone knew....if someone could hold me accountable, I knew it would never be an issue.

So I called my sister.

We told my parents the following Monday.

I knew from the get-go that I wouldn't be able to. I knew that I could never utter the words that I was certain would break my parents hearts.

In the end, I was right; my sister had to tell them for me. She told me to just squeeze her hand and she would do it. We barely got seated and I clenched it tightly. She picked right up as if she'd intended to do it all along.

The second she said the words....."Ashley's six weeks pregnant" both of my parents eyes took a second to process. I was looking at my dad when his eyes flashed to joy. Of course they asked "who" and I told them. I also told them I was going to tell the new guy the next night and see what happened there.

My parents handled it with a love I now feel ashamed for doubting. I saw in their eyes it would be okay. And I clung to that.

I told my then-boyfriend the next night.

I really expected things to end that night. But he took me by the hand and said we'd get through it together. My heart was his even more than ever.

For New Year's he gave me a promise ring.

He was good to me. Every night he came over after work and ate supper with us. I'd go up and take my shower, and he'd tuck me into bed at 7:30 or so, and then he'd stay downstairs and visit with my parents until 9, then he'd go home and get his homework done and go to bed.

He had already decided before I came into the picture that he was going to a college in another state. He would leave in July, a matter of days after my due-date of July 4th.

My doctor agreed to induce on the 6th, as I was dilated 3 cm on the 5th at my appointment. We went home, packed my bags and headed off to the hospital bright and early the next morning.

It was an all-day event for our two families. Of course they enjoyed themselves more than I did. When the decision was made to do a cesarean, his parents were as visibly upset as my own were. I had no fear or worries at this point. After laboring for 10 hours and pushing for 2 1/2, I was too tired to care how he made his entrance, I just wanted to see my son.

Ty was born at 11:05 p.m. I was too drugged to be able to process the miracle of it. It was as if they'd shown me the new $5 bill. "Oh....well......look at that."

I couldn't hold him or see him for over an hour. They had to close me up and get him cleaned up and all that good stuff. It was in the early morning hours that I got to hold him, and even then, the urge to close my eyes was overwhelming. I could tell enough to know my life was changed, though.

The Tuesday after Ty was born (He was born on a Wednesday) I had to be opened back up. My uterine fluids infected my cesarean site (one of those one-in-a-million things and it happens to me!). They opened up a 3"+ section of my pain medicine, nothing to numb it. Just pushed a Q-tip in it to break it open and then used his fingers to pry open the rest.


Hands down.

Two days later, they opened 1" of the other side.

Both sites had to be packed with sterilized gauze soaked in antibiotic three times a day.

Three times a day my mom and boyfriend would wash up, glove up and remove the old gauze from the site and then pack the site with the fresh gauze.

This had to be done for 6 weeks before it was fully healed from the inside out.

That December he gave me an engagement ring.

I ordered my dress in January. The date was set for September 23, 2006. It was going to be a special and amazing day.

We bought a house in May.

The details of what happened to end our relationship are private, so they won't be expelled here. I'll just state that shortly after he arrived home from school, after facing and enduring a year of separation there was little of our relationship left that was recognizable.

I cried.

I cried some more.

I had a particularly painful melt-down in the floor of my shower, and yet again, I cried.

And then one morning I got myself out of bed, dried my eyes, and let the world continue on. I had been hurt before. I had my heart broken before. I survived. Everything that I had endured, one thing always happened....I survived.

One way or another, the house was going to have to be fixed up, with some help I figured out a way that I could keep it for me and Ty, so we finished fixing it up and Ty and I moved in that December (2006). Life has kinda been in a holding pattern ever since.

A few guys have wandered in and quickly out of my life. Very few have treated me like an actual human being, much less someone that deserves their respect. Hopefully by now, though, I've learned to weed through the players and the jerks. Hopefully, by now, I should be able to recognize a good guy simply by the fact that he would have to be so completely different from some of the guys that have come my way in the past three years.

Although my love life is quite that pathetic and horrible, my life--overall--has been anything but!

Ty is getting bigger and bigger everyday and, cliche as it sounds, I love him more and more every day and I know that I'm so wonderfully blessed.

True, I'm not where I hoped I'd be in my life at age twenty-seven.....but I absolutely wouldn't change a thing even if I could because that's part of life. If I were the person I hoped I'd be, I wouldn't be me, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job of learning to live with me.

That's Who I Am

Over the years my MySpace Blog has seen many posts as I've discovered who I am, who I'm not, and why I am where I am in my life.

And yet it seems I never quite learn enough.

For example, I confused the heck out of myself yesterday by sending a text message to someone that I'm told I'd be better off to forget.But I've come quite a way. The last time I was a single woman for any period of time the word "mom" was attached to my own mom, not to me. The last time I was a single woman for any period of time I was twenty-two years old and had no clue what was in store for me. (If you've read this long-but-worth-it blog, you understand)

Then I was looking for fun and handsome and smart and committed and tall and.....wait......I'm still looking for those things.

But I'm also looking for a guy with kindness that starts in his heart and pours out through his eyes and his smile and his words and his actions. I'm looking for a guy who's okay taking second place. I'm looking for a guy who loves me. Completely loves me, but adores my child even more, because I expect that if he has to take second place to my son, maybe it would be a good thing if I, also, have to take second place to my son, too.

I'm looking for a guy who respects me as a woman and who will see my jagged, broken edges as beautiful because of the light that they reflect.

I'm looking for a man who is past games and who is willing to tell me how I feel, even if he thinks it's lame or opening himself up too much.

I've learned a lot about me and about what I want....and yet I just realized that I have no clue what I'm doing or who I'm looking for. How depressing is that.

I seem to have digressed to the point of losing my focus altogether.

Hmmm.......what now.

I guess the relevant thing here is to point out that for all these bad guys and all these jerks and all these Not-My-Mr.-Right-Guys that I've 'dated' or talked to or been involved with or me it seems like a lot. To me it seems like that's all there is.

But the person I texted....he was kind of my reminder that all the good guys aren't really gone. There are some guys out there that will, overall, treat me like the amazing woman that I am.

And so I keep holding out. Because I just can't stomach the thought of settling.

Changing it Up

So I'm laying in bed last night, wide awake while Super-Ty snores.

I have to share this picture one more time.

How incredibly cute is this picture and this boy and those Super Man muscles?!

Okay, back to the story, so I'm laying in bed last night thinking about how the blog layout I had was just not me and that I wanted something different. I'm not a flowery kinda gal, and while I liked the pink and green, I wasn't big on the flowers.

Flowers always get me.

Except real flowers. Then they get me in a good way.

But flower prints on clothes or wallpapers or stuff like thanks. Now a nice brocade, I like a nice brocade. But not flowers, even though there probably isn't a whole lot of difference to some genders individuals.

So I'm laying in bed after rolling Sir Snores-A-Lot onto his side, when he groggily but sweetly told me "I love you". And after the warm fuzzies and the ooey-gooeys subside I go back to thinking about the blog.

Somewhere I saw a thinly striped background that I really liked so I pinhole that in the back of my mind, and then I think that I'll stick with the green as the color behind the actual posts. So I'm designing this in my head for an hour before I realize I'll never get to sleep until it's actually said and done.

So at midnight, I'm throwing the covers back, sneaking a quick peck of Super-Sweaty-Sleeping-Ty and I'm off to fire up Old Reliable and away we go.

Two hours later, I've got the layout up that I want in the colors I want and I'm back to sleep with only a few tweaks to work out.

So I pull it up at work this morning to show off my accomplishment and everything that was one color is now painfully neon!


Why is it that I always forget to use a web safe color?

That was easy enough, though. Even though all the .png formats of the images were on Old Reliable at home, it took about 5 minutes to recreate the images and upload them and now you (hopefully) are looking at the colors I intended them to be.

Thanks to the 4096 Color Wheel. Not sure what I did before it!

So that's done with and I have a new, more me style.

I'm going on 4 hours of sleep, but my layout is cheerful enough (and more simple) that it hasn't quite hurt me the way I thought it would.

Fun in the Sun

Just thought I'd share some sunshine and smiley faces with each of you! Friday evening Ty and I loaded up the Slip-N-Slide and took it to Nana & PaPaw's. We all ate hot dogs wrapped in bacon and smothered in grilled onions (well, my parents ate the onions, my tummy hasn't been on good enough terms with me lately for me to enjoy the onions).

After the grub came the fun times.

I'd bought Ty a bubble toy at Wal Mart. After tracking down a AA battery and a small phillips screwdriver (or "plus" screwdriver as my sister calls them), we got it up and going and the boys headed outdoors.

Ty, the bigger boy, is mine. The one in yellow is my nephew, Caden.

I love this boy!

After the bubbles came the slip-n-slide! Neither really slid, although there was quite a bit of slipping!

Ty did have a problem with his pants slipping and sliding, though. Either he's lost weight since last year or the elastic in his trunks has dry rotted after drying in the sun one-too-many times!

And whatever Ty does, his cousin Caden must do, too! So Caden yanked his swimmer down and made sure Aunt Ashley got pictures just like she did with Ty! You'll just have to take my word for that one, though, as he showed a little more skin than Ty and I'm not sure it would be wise for me to upload them to the World Wide Web!

Alright, it's bedtime in our house, Super-Ty's announced he's ready for bed!

G'night all!

Things I Love to Hear

Ty and I had a good, but somewhat rough Holiday weekend. He goes through spells every 3-4 months where he likes to behave like someone else's demonic offspring.

So yesterday was less than enjoyable for the fits and the melt-downs and the bossiness and the back-talking and the arguing. I was seriously on the verge of tears wondering where my child that I so enjoy went to and who was this brat telling me "Stop that and go fix me some food!" while I was getting onto him for his bratty behavior. And where on earth did he learn to speak to anyone, much less his Mama that way?!

So we didn't enjoy yesterday very much.

And I cringed upon opening my eyes this morning, wondering what kind of day today would bring.

Because today was Ty's Pre-K assessment at the schools.

Was he going to be sweet and well-behaved (well, as well behaved as an almost-four-year-old boy can be), or was he going to be the holy terror that surfaced the day before?

Was I going to be proud or humiliated?

Obviously by the title it was the former.

We went to the school and my little sweetheart held my hand while we walked in and went and sat down on the bench next to me while we waited 15 minutes for our appointment (we were early because Ty insisted he was ready to leave for school at 8:25, even though our appointment wasn't until 8:50).

Fifteen minutes is a long time in the life of an almost-four-year-old little boy. But he sat, wiggling occasionally and chattering constantly.

When his teacher came to get him for his assessment, he took her hand and walked off like a big boy, leaving Mama behind.

After he came back from his assessment, his teacher gushed and went on about how precious he is, which just filled me to the brim with pride and the other school employees filled it over with their talk of how cute he is and how well behaved he is!

So my sweet, smart, caring, and sometimes ornery boy has resurfaced, leaving behind the one that had me pulling my hair out at my wits end yesterday!

Thank goodness!

And even though I'm just not sure I'm ready to see my boy going to school, I am so thankful for the women (and men) that work at the school he'll be going to. Every single one of them greeted me warmly and with a smile. It also helps that it's a small town and that I know about 75% of the employees and know they're good, Christian people.

When we were leaving the school Ty told me that he wanted to go back to school again and see his classroom and that he wanted to go to school every day.

I'm not yet ready for that, but I'm glad to know that he thinks he is!


So about a month ago I decided to start a jogging plan called the Couch-to-5k. A friend of mine read this website and decided to start doing it and so I decided to take a leap and do it, too.

Basically, what this plan does is it takes the Average Joe and works them up to being able to jog 5k (3 miles) within a 9 week period of time.

I'm on week 4 right now.

Week 5, I fear, will kick my butt.

But I wanted to share it with my readers in case it's anything anyone wants to do.

So, here's the jogging plan:

(View Full Size)

And I promise to update with progress as I go! So far, it's taken me almost 6 weeks to get to week 4 because of weather and tendinitis flare-ups in both ankles and the threat of it in both knees, so I took a few days off to pacify my body.

Yesterday was my first day on week 4, which moved from jogging in increments of 90 seconds and 3 minutes, to jogging in increments of 3 minutes and 5 minutes. Next week it moves to 5 minutes and 8 minutes and then on up to 20 minutes, so I'm interested to see how my body and my respiratory system respond to that.

If any of you decide to take the leap and start this jogging plan, I'd love to know how you progress!

Frustrations of Parenting

This is just one of those getting-it-off-my-chest blogs that you may want to skip over, but then again you might be able to relate to it, so what've you got to lose but the few minutes it takes to read it?

Besides, if nothing else, you might be able to give me some new insight on the situation.

First, let me pat myself on the back for a second. I am raising a sweet and good boy and I'm so proud of him and the person he's becoming.

But I hate that sometimes the child I'm raising gets hurt for being a good and nice person.

I hate that he's sometimes the victim of a punk child that's not being raised the same way.

Now, this isn't a regular thing as Ty spends most of his time, thankfully, in the company of good kids from our church. But there are occasions when in public that we have run-ins with kids that appear to be on the pathway to becoming a full-fledged bully.

One instance occurred last night.

I let it pass when Ty got hit in the face with a basketball, because, let's face it, most of the time when that happens, it's an accident.

However, when he comes to me telling me the same boy wrenched his arm behind his back and bent his fingers backwards? That is no accident. (The kid thought Ty was taking too long in going down the slide, but Ty was waiting on the little girl ahead of him to move off the slide before he went.)

Nor was it an accident when the kid was pushing girls or cutting in line.

I'm proud of Ty because he didn't retaliate on the kid, but at the same time, I can't help but think it would have been all too fair if that kid walked away crying for once.

You did want pictures, right?

Because I totally have pictures for you!

Thursday's Adventures consisted of:
  • a bird flying into the side of my vehicle and leaving aviary dust (but fortunately no dent) on my driver's side front door.
  • Ty went to a birthday party at the park yesterday afternoon, only to rush off after realizing that the helicopter landed across from the hospital (a block away from our house) and he was ready to go see the helicopter and "the man that lives inside it".
  • mowing my yard for the 2nd time this week (it had grown so tall that it took 2 cuts to get it down to a decent level), and getting half of it weedeated before all my batteries ran dead.
  • Burying a dead bluebird found floating in Ty's yellow wading pool.
  • Cleaning up and filling up said yellow wading pool.
  • Snapping a gazillion pictures of The Boy in his swimsuit filling up the yellow wading pool (I think that was all the fun of it because once he got it filled up, he was pretty much done with it!)
  • Going to Nana & PaPaw's for an evening swim with family and friends.
Definitely a good day. And possibly our last sunny, rain-free day for about a week, so I'm glad we enjoyed it while we could!


Ty getting a sip of water. It's hard work filling a wading pool in the shade!

My favorite thing about this picture? The heart shape of light on his chest!!

It's here as well, too!

He had such a blast with the water!!

Ty making a "waterfall"!

This is where he called out to me, "Mama! The water's stuck in the hose!!" (I'd turned it off so it wouldn't all splash out)

Then he had to get his moment of manliness in and pretend he was mowing the yard.

Wet and dirty, or clean and dry, there's just something precious about little kid feet!!

Although I'm not a photographer (my mom and sister are both professional photographers, and while I love having good pictures of things special to me, I don't consider myself to be even a hobbyist photographer, I just like good pictures of precious memories).

Anyway, although I'm no photographer, I've been sharing with some of my friends and readers some tricks to better pictures using manual settings.

The below picture is an example.

I was taking a picture of the retaining wall my dad is building along the creek at their house (recent excessive rains have made this not only pretty but necessary). It really wasn't all that dark out when I was taking it but the sun was getting low in the sky and I was shooting into a shaded area.

Using the automatic camera setting (which popped up my flash that obviously can't carry the distance I was shooting!), this is what I got.

Putting it on Manual, raising my ISO, opening up my aperture, and slowing down my shutter speed, this is what I got.

Night and day, right? Literally! The Automatic settings made it look darker than it was, the manual settings make it look lighter than it was.

Want to know more about manual settings, comment below, if I get enough requests I'll blog on it.

But if not, just enjoy the parting shot and have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

A Long Time Gone

Clearly I'm too technologically dependent if almost a full twenty-four-hour period of interrupted access can make me feel detached from my world and reality.

I got my new work computer in yesterday just before lunch so I dedicated my time to transferring all of my files and such to my external hard drive, then I prepped everyone for taking the network down (my computer acts as a pseudo-server for the office). So I took everything down and unhooked everything and started getting my new system in place and hooked up......

I gotta tell you, I think I'm having an inferiority complex with a 22" widescreen monitor on my desk. I feel tiny compared to it in all its hugeness. I didn't realize I would be getting such a large monitor.


But I got everything hooked up and after three tries in mounting our new network hardware (we were limited by CAT-5e cables that don't stretch, go figure.)

So I fired her up and realized I forgot to plug my keyboard and mouse directly into the computer (they were plugged into hubs, but the computer wouldn't recognize the hub until the drivers were installed, clearly I wasn't thinking)

I changed that up and fixed it quickly and we were off to the races from there!

And get this............

My network came up IMMEDIATELY!!

I was totally dreading this because anytime I take our network down physically, it stays down for at least a full day for a million-and-one reasons, but it came right up and was blazing fast, so I'm thrilled!

So yay! It probably seems trivial, but hopefully I'll get some uninterrupted work in now that I (hopefully) will be able to go without resetting the network every 20-30 minutes! Hurray!

Okay, that's all the news in my little world! I need to get my yard mowed tonight since the rains are returning tomorrow and I'm thinking that judging by the level of cranky in our house, Ty and I should probably try to get to bed a little earlier tonight, which will be easy now that Grey's is all reruns now.

Hope you all have a fabulous afternoon!

You've Got to be Kidding Me

So I had to go to court today to fulfill some of my job duties. My court duties basically consist of sitting there, being cute, issuing receipts, handling the cash box and listening to sometimes ridiculously stupid stories.

After 5 years of this I'm not caught off guard nearly as easily as I once was.

However, today my jaw hit my chest and then clattered back up to my teeth again before I even knew I was reacting.

You see, this guy got a few tickets. One of them was Possession of Marijuana, which was "just in the truck". He didn't know it was there, it wasn't his, it was someone else's.

I was ready to move onto the "Same song, second verse" but the Judge let the guy's mom come up and talk with him about it as well.

Once the full events came out, the kid had been in the company of some individuals the day before who had been smoking weed (he neither smoked nor inhaled, apparently but did answer that if tested today he would not pass a drug test, to which he got kudos from the Judge for his honesty).

After his props from the judge he decided to cross the line of 'being honest' into the land of 'being too honest' and told the Judge in front of the entire court that he didn't know the weed was there and if he had known he'd "have done smoked it".

Thus the jaw-droppage.

Yes, I'm serious.

No, I'm not kidding you.

A different type of same

Okay, so I'm having a challenging time trying to come up with blog ideas and things I want to blog about because all of the other blogs I read are about these parents or single parents who live this great and interesting and adventurous life.

And then there's me.

I work at a jail and while I can leave you splitting your sides in laughter over tales of strip searches and fantastically stupid stories of brainless criminals, I have no tales of a social life that can be told. Because while I lead a life that's wonderfully exciting to me, it's just a simple little life of getting up in the mornings, getting ready for work, waking my boy up, getting him off to daycare, spending 8 hours in the company of cops and criminals, leaving, getting my boy from daycare, fixing supper, surfing the net, and squeezing in whatever adventures can be had before it's bath and bedtime.

That's my life.

There is no man in my life.

There certainly are no men in my life.

It's just me and my son.

And I'm happy with it that way, the only thing I wish I had were these great and interesting tales to tell you about a guy that I could be seeing or guys I could be choosing between or friends that I go out with or have a book club with or....well, anything.

But it's just me and Ty.

And I'm okay with it.

I just hope that my readers are, too.

Best of Times

After being away from my boy every evening since Tuesday (I was helping friends get ready for a wedding that happened on Saturday), I finally got some quality time with my boy!

We came home from church yesterday morning, had lunch, and then snuggled into Mama's bed for a much needed nap (we both played hard on Saturday). Unfortunately, we accidentally overslept and missed church, which he called me on, and then by the time I got him to agree to go to the grocery store, it was closed, to which he replied in a tone as if he were the grown-up of the house, "Okay then, that means we go ride our bicycles."

However, my bike seat was still soaked with water from all of the rain we've had over the last three weeks! So the boy went outside and dug holes in the mud and poured buckets of rainwater on my flowers, as if they needed more watering, and fussed at the birds for eating his strawberries off of his strawberry plant. (I tried to convince him that there weren't any on there for the birds to get, but he was quite insistent).

Instead of an actual meal for supper, Ty created the menu, which consisted of sunflower seeds (which I'd just taught him how to properly eat yesterday after finding him hiding while chomping the shells into little splinters), chocolate ice-cream cones, and pizza.

After that, we got out the alphabet flash cards which just made Mama's heart full and proud and happy as can be! He's doing SO well!! He doesn't yet know Q, U, V, W, X, or Z and he gets confused between M and N, but he is doing AMAZINGLY well! Oh and the first time I showed him H he told me "Ummm.....this one's hard for little kids!" Too cute!

So that's about it for our fun weekend together! On Saturday he got to hang out with his PaPaw and play in the creek and "Climb a cliff" (he climbed up and down a rock retaining wall my dad is building into the side of the creek). So he had lots of great guy adventures with the man that hung the moon for both me and Ty. I absolutely love the relationship those two share!

So I'm thinking about posting a money-minded blog sometime this week, since that's one of the trials and issues that single parents regularly face. Look for that probably mid-week.

Until then, Happy Monday!

Flying to New Heights

Okay, I am completely up in the air right now!

Emitations mentioned my blog in their blog!

And I might be completely stoked about it, not that you could tell, I'm sure!

But, seriously, I'm super stoked because this is the first time any of my blogs (to my knowledge) have gotten props outside of my sister or someone that's actually connected to me in real life. So it's pretty awesome, to me, I feel like an internet celebrity, which just goes to show you how much dork I have in me!

But in a cute-dork kind of way, right?

Alright, enough gushing. If you haven't already, check out my blog and then go check out their blog. I'm sending you to my blog first, though, because it's super easy to get distracted by all their beautiful jewelry, so remember, my blog and then their blog. ;)

Have a great evening, all. I'm off to bed to enjoy a foot-in-the ribs/back/neck-free night of rest. The boy's with his Nana & PaPaw tonight and while I'll miss him, I'm certain I'll manage to enjoy a good night of rest, too!

It's Friday

So I'm having a good hair day today. Or at least I think I am. Maybe it's because I went all week without curling it, so today when I curl it, it's all full of body and awesome looking compared to the straightened flat hair I've sported all week.

Mama like.

And Ty liked, too.

I swear, my boy is the sweetest thing ever.

"Mama! Your hair looks sooooo pretty!"

"Thank you, baby!"

"You're welcome, sweetheart!"

He's gotten this thing of recycling my little pet names for him, even calling me his boy. But I'll take it, because the way he says it is just so precious.

Anyway, so it's Friday and I should be more excited and happy and all that jazz because it's the day I've waited all week for.

And now that it's here I'm questioning why I was so ready for it to get here.....not that I'm being all pessimistic or anything, I just stayed up too late last night watching my DVR of Grey's (don't get me started.....) and I'm not yet feeling super-chipper about much more than my hair and my pet-names.

I have a wedding to help with this weekend. I'm going to take pictures and look pretty and light candles and probably look around going "Wow.....there is just no dating pool around here."

Who knows.

We'll see.

But at least I'll get to look cute, right?

Bad guys don't cry, only good guys.

I've been letting my little boy sleep in the bed with me for the past few weeks. He wants to, which is complete opposite from a month before when I couldn't get him to even consider taking a nap in the same room with me. But now he wants to sleep in Mama's bed with Mama.

And I'm letting him. For now, at least, if not until he decides that he's had his fill.

It's not like he's coming between me and my imaginary husband; I have no relationship that he's interfering with or interrupting, so I don't see any hurt in it. It's like we're recharging each other's batteries, actually, and that's a weird way to put it. But no matter what battles we have throughout the day (and you moms know that there are plenty to be had!) when it's time to lay down and go to sleep, he just gets all snuggly and cuddly and lovable.

And the conversations we have at bedtime are priceless.

Two nights ago we were talking about crying, for some reason. He was telling me that his PaPaw doesn't cry and that big kids don't cry. I told him that sometimes big kids do cry and he then informed me that good guys cry, but bad guys don't cry.

And something about that statement struck me deeply. Maybe he's right. Good guys are good, and good people care and trust and make themselves vulnerable. Bad guys don't. Bad guys think of themselves and not of others. They don't invest themselves in anyone or anything else.

My little boy said something so innocent and so simple in his mind, but when it hit my own, it became this complex and wonderful thing. And he doesn't know it, but he just added another requirement to the list for My Future Good Guy.

Because good guys cry.

Up In The Air

Romantic love hasn't been a constant companion in my life the past few years. It's never been a regular visitor, in fact.

After my broken engagement and canceled wedding I found myself completely and 100% a Single Mom.

Automatically, my mind went to my son's genetic donor. Surely I owed it to my son to try to date the man that unintentionally helped create my greatest blessing.

So I went in that direction for a while, only to land on my face and realize that he and I weren't compatible at all in a romantic aspect, although I have suspicions he might make a pretty decent life-long friend.

When I saw how pointless that was, I would consider another guy or another guy or another.

Except it seems that my taste in men isn't what it should be. Either that or my town has absolutely nothing decent to offer me at this point. Both are likely.

One guy has wandered in and out of the picture several times, trying to convince me he's this great and wonderful person while he fills my ears with all these little lies. Then others would come along and I just know up front that it's not going to work, why waste my time? I've had love, I've had romance (although very little), and I've had someone I'm comfortable with before. But now I want all of those in the same person, and a little passion and chemistry would be great, too. These guys were total princes, they just weren't my prince.

But the last three years of my life have been romantically stagnant. I've had guys play me, I've had guys lie to me, I've had guys inform me their intentions were solely physical (and he acted surprised when I asked him to leave!). I've had guys treat me every way but right.

So, for the last year or so I've been teetering right on the edge of giving up. Completely. I doubt I'll ever be able to truly give up, though, because I honestly believe that if God gives me this emptiness in my heart, He will fill it. Just as He had before.

You see, in 2004, on a flight to Paris with my mom and dad and my sister and her husband, I took a quick inventory and realized that I was going to the City of Love with two couples and I--as always--was alone. So I prayed that if it was okay with God, I'd like to at least be close to having my own family within a year.

I thought that I was praying for a man. A grown man.

But my prayer was answered in the form of a wrinkled little baby boy that came the following July. What can I say? I prayed for the great love of my life, and I got him.

But I'm just still praying for the one who will take second place to Ty. Because, let's face it, he will always take second place.

So I can't give up on love because I know that, eventually, it will happen. But in the meantime, I like to console myself with wish-listing.

I'm such a girl.

I can't afford much shopping because I'm sole provider for my little family, so I wish-list and I accumulate a million bookmarks of things that I would cook when I can afford an elaborate grocery budget, things I would wear when I can afford the style of clothes that I have my heart set on, the perfect shoes for those outfits, and the right jewelery.

Ahhh, jewelery.

I assume it's every girl's downfall, because it's definitely this girl's downfall.

But as a budget shopper, I like stores like,, and of course

I (heart) Amazon.

But while I was wish-listing, I stopped first at Cartier and found the ring. Sure, it would be Ring #2, but it would be the ring. This one would be final.

Stunning, no?

The kind of man to give me a ring anywhere near that beautiful would have to be totally in love with me and my son, totally committed to me and my son, one hundred percent completely devoted to us.

Or he wouldn't dream of it, right?

Well, I was wish-listing one evening and I found another ring that I just so desperately want.

You see, I've come to really and truly wonder if me finding The Man I'm going to marry is going to happen before or after pigs fly. That's been my thing for a couple of years now.

But while wish-listing one day, I came across another ring and knew instantly that I wanted to wear that ring on my wedding day because it just fit where my heart is right now about love and finding a good guy.

So I decided that he, whoever he turns out to be, would have to buy me this ring as a promise ring. If he buy me this ring just to see how it would make me smile....yeah, that's the kind of guy I dream about.

Except, I've been dreaming about finding that kind of guy for a year now and I still am no closer to my little piggy ring..

So I think I'm going to have to suck it up, save some pennies, and get my little piggy for myself someday, and then when Prince Slow-but-Charming comes along and the time is right, he can buy me just the one other ring.

But that's the kind of guy I dream of. And I know that I have to be realistic, but I also know what I deserve. I could probably get past it if he's not 6' tall or taller (my most superficial desire in a man as I grew up around taller men and feel more secure around taller men). But I do need someone who will sweep me off of my feet. I do need someone who will occasionally go an extra mile to make me smile or to show me he's not like these guys that I've wasted years on. I do need someone who will be a Daddy to my son, because a Daddy is just so much more special than a father. I need someone who doesn't mind letting me spoil him in return, too, because face it, a guy that great would deserve a little spoiling, too.

So my hopes are up in the air. But that's okay because that's where they should be, it gives me room to build a foundation beneath them.

Ancient History

Once upon a time I was engaged.

I haven't mentioned that here.

There was a guy that I dated while pregnant with my son. Although he was not the genetic donor, he stepped into the role that was otherwise vacant. He went with me to Dr's appointments and was in the operating room when Ty was delivered.

Ty's first Christmas this guy gave me a ring.

So we were engaged.

We set the date, bought a house, I ordered the dress, did the planning, took the pictures, bought furniture, and started renovating the house.....the whole shebang.

But two months before the wedding it all fell apart.

And for a day or two afterwards, I fell apart, too.

But I got to the point where enough was enough, so I wiped my tears away and picked myself up and returned to my most important job. Mom.

I got my bank statements and bills out and looked long and hard at what it would cost to move Ty and I out of my parents house and into a house of our own.

No matter how I did the math, there was just no way that I could live on my own, I would always be just short on having enough to get by.

But I took the chance and when the house was finished I moved me and Ty into our first real home. Our home.

In the three years since then I've somehow always managed. Some months I've come out of with a smile, others I came out of in a sweat. But we've always made it through.

Pre-Mama Drama

Like every single mom, I wasn't always a mama. At this point, it's hard to remember my life when it centered around me and not this little person that it's currently centered on.

And looking back I see that I'm at least twice the person now that I was then because I was so selfish. I didn't realize it then, but it really always was about me.

I became a single mom in the way quite a few single moms are created.

By sheer surprise.

And a failed contraceptive.

But the day came when I peed on a stick and saw the result I was confident I would not see.

After all, this stuff happened in movies and to other people. It wouldn't happen to me.

It was totally one of those "When Pigs Fly" kind of things.

But it did happen to me and it only took a short period of time before I was okay with it. This baby defied technology and biology so it wasn't too hard to see that it was meant to be.

And 8 months universe shifted.

Joie de Vivre

This is the joy of my life, the center of my universe.

This is Ty.

He has made me everything that I have become in the past 4 years.

My fait accompli.

This is the love of my life.

This is where the journey begins.