A Tribute to My Mom

I never wanted to have to write this post.

And I’m struggling to do so now.

It was the first cloudless, bright sunny day after nearly a week of rain.

It was also the day my mom took her last breath.

Paradoxical as it may sound, it was still a beautiful day.

In a strange way.

Because it meant my mom was no longer in pain.

No longer spending every waking moment in agony.

No more excruciating daily struggles.

No more endless doctor appointments.

No more countless scans and blood work.

No more urgent trips to the hospital.

No more useless pills to try to mask the pain.

She is finally at peace.

Finally free of cancer.

Once and for all.

My heart aches with sadness.

But her suffering is over, and that’s what truly matters.

She is a survivor of war.

A recipient of miracles.

And the strongest, most determined, bravest person I had ever had the honor of knowing.

On December 10, 2018, heaven gained a new angel.

This is not the ending to the story that we’d hoped for.

But, in my heart, I know it isn’t truly “the end”.

Because love lives forever.

Hope lives on.

And nothing can ever take that away.

We Get Only Today
By Souad “Sue” Battista
(a.k.a. Tink the Belle)
From Playing by My Own Rules

I

won’t run away from  a challenge

I

Will move towards it

I

Will not let fear blind me

I

Will Face it

I

Will not hide from the truth

I

Will Learn from it

I

Search in the darkness

I

Seek the light

I

Won’t see an end

I

Find a new beginning

I

Will not turn away from myself

But

Back to myself

Fly high, Mom. I will always love you, and I will miss you forever.

Fly high, Mom. I will always love you, and I will miss you forever.

~I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, with blogging and life as a whole. My posts will likely be sporadic for a while until everything settles, but I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for your kindness and support, and to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, in case I’m not up to speed before then.~

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Friday Night Fumble

Is it over yet?

I mean…

Go team!!!

Yeah!!!

High school football.

It’s quite the production in The Lone Star State.

Even people without kids religiously attend every Friday night.

It’s that big a thing out here.

Hell, there’s even a 10 billion member marching band at every single game.

And the marching band is typically more fun to watch than the actual football game itself.

Sort of like the halftime show during The Super Bowl.

At eight dollars a ticket for the privilege of sitting on rock-hard metal bleachers for three to four hours, watching the clock move in slower motion than logically possible…

How could it be anything but exciting?

Right?

I personally pass the time alternately playing on my phone, staring in disbelief at my watch, and glancing at the score board.

But I’m sure some people are actually watching the game.

Probably.

What better way to spend a Friday night?

I mean, besides sleeping.

Never mind the fact that I have to get up at 3 am the next morning for work.

If I’m having such a blast, why do I keep going to these games, you might wonder?

Well, to support my amazing mascot, of course!

But at eight dollars a ticket…

I could go see a movie for that price.

Or at buy a great cocktail.

Especially after sitting on those sadistic ass-numbing, back-breaking bleachers.

Sure, it’d be more cost-effective to stay home in my pajamas, watching reruns on Netflix.

But I suppose it beats sitting at home.

Sometimes, at least.

Especially when things get really exciting.

Between evacuations, stampedes, and near-electrocutions, it has been a fairly exciting season so far.

Almost every home game has kicked off with a lightning evacuation.

During the very first quarter.

Which is especially thrilling when lightning menacingly illuminates the sky and rain comes pouring down in an attempt to recreate Noah’s Ark, right there in the middle of the football field.

The bleachers are at full capacity.

Of course.

Because everyone in town is at the game.

Did I mention the bleachers are metal?

And metal conducts electricity.

Which is ever-so-slightly concerning.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy high school football games enough to risk electrocution.

And so the stampedes begin.

Which is a rather refreshing break from some of those obnoxious, screeching, know-it-all fans.

Yeesh.

Perhaps this is why I never bothered to attend any games when I was in high school.

Nothing against school sports and all the good qualities they help foster.

But sometimes I wonder why I pay to get hit in the head with rogue balls at games where excessively vocal away team fans conduct themselves as though the home team had the audacity to cross into Oakland Raiders territory.

Yikes.

The things we do for our children.

We support our kids.

Even when it risks our last remaining thread of sanity.

Because our kids will always remember that we were there for them.

Especially if we embarrass the hell out of them with our mere presence.

Because embarrassment and support apparently go hand in hand.

Go team, go!

Woooo!!!

~Happy Friday, friends! Have a great weekend!~

It's Friday night! Um, yay?

It’s Friday night! Um, yay?

Motivation for Turbulent Times

Some days, we just need an extra dose of humor to compensate for life’s crappy challenges.

Some days..

Some weeks…

Hell, even some months…

Yeah.

So here’s a bit of humorous inspiration for anyone who could use a little boost right about now.

(Have you ever seen a sad Cookie Monster? Case in point. Now go eat a cookie and cheer up.)

(If you believe passionately enough, you might soar higher than you ever thought possible! But you might want to put on a cape first, just to be on the safe side…)

(Much like the brain, utilizing one’s entire ass is twice as impactful as using half of it. It’s gotta be all ass or no ass. There’s no in between. Speaking of asses…)

(Butt prints are sooo unflattering. So get up and make amazing things happen!)

(If you do nothing else today, do this one little thing. Talk about an adrenalizing mood booster!)

(They say you can’t keep doing things the exact same way and expect different results. Right? I mean, left…?)

(I’ll be the first to admit, I hate to lose. Hate, hate, hate it. This is where having a warped sense of humor comes in handy.)

(To quote the great Homer Simpson, “Shut up brain, or I’ll stab you with a Q-tip!”)

(But seriously, it can kill you if you’re not careful. So be smart and use your brain. You know, the same one you just stabbed with a Q-tip. Whoops!)

(Plants need sunlight to thrive and grow. So do human beings. Without sunlight, we wither like shriveled prunes. So step outside and get your daily dose of mood boosting vitamin D.)

(Amen to that.)

(If all else fails, always remember this one thing: you’re awesome. Because I said so. Enough said.)

~Have a great weekend, friends! Smile, laugh, and always look for that elusive silver lining.~

Driving Mr. Mascot, Part 2

Slow down.

Slow down!!

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SLOW THE @&*% DOWN!!!

With 30 minutes to spare after dropping my younger child off at his guitar lesson…

It was the perfect opportunity to continue working with my older son (a.k.a. Mascot Boy) on his driving skills.

And so he took the wheel.

Figuring it was only three miles from the music school to our house, it wouldn’t necessarily be an unreasonable walk for my younger one if scary driver Mascot Boy and I didn’t make it back alive from driving practice.

Unfortunately, the fact that it’s been unseasonably hot out made it a less than optimal scenario.

But it’s always good to have a plan, right?

Mr. Mascot decided he’d like to practice in a shopping parking lot that day.

Did you know different rules apply in parking lots?

Namely, there are no rules .

Especially in a Walmart parking lot.

Between vehicles blindly pulling out in front of other traffic with no regard to right of way, and overall mayhem in general…

The very notion of safe driving seems to go right down the toilet.

All I knew is that I sure as hell didn’t want to die in the Walmart parking lot.

I’d rather get eaten by my dog.

Not that my precious Jett would ever eat me.

But still.

Dying at Walmart/in the Walmart parking lot is definitely not the way I’d like to go.

Especially with a 16-year-old driver behind the wheel.

And not only does this 16-year-old believe he already knows everything there is possibly to know about driving…

I’ve somehow recently ended up with two backseat drivers whenever I’m driving.

Because even though my 13-year-old hasn’t had any formal driving instruction, he too  believes he now magically knows everything there is to know about driving.

Specifically, that he and his brother know everything.

And I, the driver with two decades of experience, know nothing.

As if I suddenly need coaching on how to safely maneuver a vehicle.

That didn’t feel like a complete stop.

You forgot your turn signal! Right in front of that cop over there!

I’m pretty sure even I have better judgement than you!

Meanwhile, Mr. Mascot has taken a liking to barreling full-speed toward red lights.

I’m starting to think I ought to be wearing a blindfold when I’m in the passenger seat.

He attempted to park next to the only car in the back row of the parking lot.

Which happened to be a BMW vaguely resembling The Batmobile.

Which happened to be one that we really can’t afford to gently nudge from behind or do a drive-by mirror sideswipe on.

After one unsuccessful attempt of parking straight in between the lines, I strongly encouraged him to find a different spot.

Away from other cars.

All other cars.

After surviving the Walmart parking lot, we headed back to the music school to pick up child number two.

We arrived safely.

The parking lot was under heavy construction.

So we soared over a massive mud bump, Dukes of Hazzard style.

But ultimately, we didn’t get pulled over by any cops.

And even more importantly, we survived.

So it’s a win.

I’ve come to realize that my son’s learning to drive comes at a price.

The expense of fuel.

And the expense of my sanity.

Which has long been precariously dangling by a thin thread.

Oh, but at least I’m getting a break from driving, right?

If your idea of a break is anxiety, panic, or a heart attack, then yes.

Thanks to me, my dear child, you are gaining experience.

Thanks to you, my dear child, I seem to be losing experience.

Or my sanity.

One of the two.

Or both.

~Happy Saturday, friends! Click here if you’d like to read Part 1 of our exciting driving experiences. Have a great weekend, and watch out for nervous Student  Drivers and their equally terrified parents! Haha!~

The Danger Zone... it's a real thing.

The Danger Zone… it’s a real thing.

The Baddest Apple

I swear, eating while distracted is every bit as hazardous as driving in your sleep.

You know those little preservative packets in packages of food?

They’re called desiccant packets.

But I’ve always called them Do Not Eat packets.

Have you ever wondered what happens if you consume a Do Not Eat packet?

It’s not really something I ever gave much thought to, personally.

Until recently.

The thing is, I may have accidentally eaten one.

You’re probably wondering how that’s even possible.

Either you ate it or you didn’t, right?

Oh, I’m still scratching my head on this one, too.

It all started innocently enough.

I was ravenous, so I bought a bag of freeze-dried Fuji apples to devour on my drive home from work.

Shoveling handfuls of apples into my mouth, I found myself backed up in traffic about 10 minutes into my drive.

Figuring I had time to pass while waiting at a red light, I turned over the bag to read the nutrition facts.

Yeah, I’m weird like that.

It was a single serving bag.

Which was great, because the thing was dangerously close to empty already.

At least the ingredients were simple enough:

Freeze dried apples, ascorbic acid, and citric acid.

Not bad at all.

And 220% of vitamin C per serving.

Whew!

More than enough to ward off any threat of scurvy.

More importantly, it was made in the USA.

Because if I wanted to eat a toxic Chinese import, I’d chow down a box of so-called “non-toxic” crayons.

Or one of those questionable McDonald’s Happy Meal toys with 500 microscopic parts.

On second thought, those toxic little toys could also lead to asphyxiation.

Disturbingly enough, they aren’t not the only things that could present a safety hazard.

Further down on the apple bag was a warning.

Just some nonsense about a desiccant packet.

Yada yada yada.

Hey, wait a minute…

Holy crap!

The Do Not Eat packet!

Where the hell was the Do Not Eat packet?!?

Still sitting in an endless line of traffic, I dared a frantic peek into the bag.

There was hardly anything left in it.

Mostly crumbs, really.

And no sign of the packet.

Maybe they had forgotten to put one in this package?

Or…

Could I seriously have just eaten the stupid thing?

I mean, really?

How would I have missed that?

Even among generous fistfuls of apples, surely I’d have noticed a difference in texture or flavor.

Especially once biting into the packet and unleashing sand-like particles.

Were my senses that off?

Were my standards that low?

And I may very well have reached a new low with this dilemma.

You might think I’d have been more concerned for my safety.

After all, I could have ingested a potentially hazardous substance, for all I knew.

Yet, I found the whole thing mildly amusing.

Did this kind of stuff actually happen to other people?

Or was it truly just me?

By this point, I’m pretty well convinced it’s just me.

When I arrived home 20 minutes later, I Googled “accidental ingestion of desiccant packet”.

Which immediately directed me to the poison control website.

The information was surprisingly reassuring.

Apparently, one can safely scarf down the equivalent of an entire shoebox-worth of those packets and likely only experience stomach discomfort.

I can (almost) understand accidentally wolfing down one of those suckers…

But who would unknowingly devour a whole box of that crap?

A dog, maybe?

One with lower standards than me, perhaps?

Continuing on with my online self-diagnostics, I grabbed a couple of mini blueberry muffins.

Still needing a little more reassurance, I decided to test out a theory.

Leaving the wrapper intact, I made a simulated attempt at eating a muffin.

Would I notice when I bit into a chunk of the thin paper?

Would I?

I was genuinely intrigued now.

I immediately noticed the texture difference between the yummy moist muffin and the grainy paper.

But then, I also wasn’t distracted the same way I had been while driving.

I still wasn’t convinced.

A tray of sugar packets caught my eye a few days later at a restaurant.

I swiped one and shoved it in my purse.

To test something out a little later, just for kicks.

Let’s just say I didn’t get too far with that one.

The paper had the consistency of notebook paper, and the sugar felt like grains of sand.

But there was no mistaking a foreign substance’s assault on my palate.

Even so, a Do Not Eat packet was still smaller and not as grainy as a packet of sugar.

Whether I did or did not eat a desiccant packet still remains a mystery.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m more or less okay after maybe or maybe not having eaten one.

I think.

~Happy Friday, friends! Have a great weekend!~

Do not eat? A little late for that, don't you think?

Do not eat? A little late for that, don’t you think?

(The Baddest Apple originally appeared on Comically Quirky on 09/17/15.)

Super Pooper Pukey Pups

Aren’t doggies the best?

They give sweet hugs.

And affectionate kisses.

They keep us warm on chilly days.

But sometimes, they’re kind of…

Well, gross.

They cram strange things in their mouths.

They sniff crotches and lick butts.

They poop and pee whenever and wherever they see fit.

They inhale their food in one big gulp.

And then sometimes puke it right back up.

Then they eat their pile of puked up food.

Because there’s nothing more appetizing than eating dinner and noticing your doggie quietly sitting in the corner and chewing on…

What, exactly?

A spider?

Oh, if only.

Nope.

It’s a pile of vomit.

Of course it is.

And apparently it’s mmm mmm good.

So lovely.

But at least dogs love to be active!

You know what’s the best part about taking doggies for a walk?

Watching them lift their hind legs to an astounding assortment of things!

Basketball hoops.

Real estate signs.

High voltage electric boxes.

It’s all fair game.

But it’s one thing to pee on fire hydrants…

And another altogether to plop dead center in some random neighbor’s front yard and proceed to take the biggest dump in history.

And so you might find yourself on your hands and knees as you valiantly try to do the right thing.

Which is hard, because you realize you’ve completely run out of doggie waste bags.

But luck for you, there’s exactly one crumpled tissue left in your pocket!

Of course, it’s not the easy to grab kind of doggie doo.

And so your efforts ultimately result in ripping out fistfuls of some random neighbor’s well-manicured lawn.

For the sake of courtesy and thoroughness.

And because, once again, it’s the right thing to do.

The cleaning up part, that is.

But because you’re working with one measly tissue, keeping your hands clean during cleanup is utterly out of the question.

And so spitting on your hands and rubbing them together vigorously is your only means of “washing” up.

Why is it that you never carry hand sanitizer with you?

Ugh.

You head home in defeat, with your poopie hands and one paradoxically happy doggie in tow.

But in this modern time of digital technology, you can rest assured the entire freak show of chaos has been recorded on someone’s home security camera.

And they will watch the video footage later.

And they will be baffled by what on earth it is you’re doing while your happy doggie stands by, kicking up dirt and licking nearby trees while you’re crouched down in their yard yanking up their grass with a filthy-looking tissue.

So much for always doing the right thing.

Maybe it’s better to just stick to your own backyard, huh?

Oh well.

Pets can be downright messy and gross.

But damn, they’re just so irresistibly adorable!

~Happy Friday, friends! Have a great weekend!~

Ah! The perfect place for a little hind leg-lifting action!

Ah! The perfect place for a little hind leg-lifting action!

Spatulas and Spiderman

Crash!

There’s only one explanation for this.

My house clearly was designed for a ginormous NBA player.

While Shaquille O’Neal would likely be in his element here…

I can’t reach past the second shelf in any of my kitchen cabinets.

Not easily, anyway.

And so I climb.

Or I whack things off those higher shelves.

With a spatula.

Which is why sometimes things go flying off the shelves and hit the ground instead of landing in my hand as intended.

Like that glass I just tried to knock off the third shelf.

Thank goodness it wasn’t the fourth shelf, or everything might’ve come crashing down at my feet.

Usually I can thread a spatula through the handle of a mug and hoist it down like a firefighter valiantly rescuing someone from a burning building.

But not everything in the cabinet has handles.

And so it doesn’t always work out quite the way I plan.

Evident by the occasional crashes and thuds.

Cake pans.

Touch up paint cans.

These things are all out of my reach range.

The cereal boxes are also well out of my reach, in the pantry.

But I don’t feel bad whacking those off the shelf with my spatula.

Because at least if they hit the ground, they don’t shatter and spew shards everywhere.

Sure, there might be a few rogue Cheerios on the loose.

But it’s preferable to glass shards all over the floor.

In case you’re wondering, I do have a ladder.

Several, actually.

But I don’t always feel like hauling one around.

By the time I locate one, haul it over, yank it open…

I could’ve already scaled the kitchen counter faster than Spiderman and grabbed whatever I needed.

So yeah.

I save ladders for more pressing matters.

Like for when the fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night and I’m a solid two feet away from even reaching the damn thing to deactivate it.

Fortunately, I’m a pro at climbing random fixtures.

I seem to be part Spiderman, part monkey.

Wait.

Would this make me a spider monkey?!

Hmm.

At barely over five feet tall, so many things are just out of my reach.

And so I am forced to resort to climbing onto the kitchen and bathroom counters to gain a few inches.

Or feet.

But not just at home, either.

I also scale the shelves at various stores without a second thought.

Oh, come  on.

Whose bright idea was it to stock products  so far above my head?

I rest my case.

I gotta do what I gotta do.

Especially since I don’t bring my handy spatula to the store with me.

Because that’d be weird, right?

The mighty spatula.

Small but powerful.

Just like me.

The Spiderman monkey girl.

I can’t reach much of anything.

And I’m okay with that.

On the bright side…

At least I’m rarely in danger of hitting my head on a doorway.

And yet I still manage to whack my head on car doors.

Go figure.

~Happy Friday, friends! Have a great weekend!~

An actual image of me in action...

An actual image of me in action…

Back to School Blues

It’s that time again.

Back to school time.

Yippee.

More like back to gaaah!

Can you feel the enthusiasm?

Yeah.

Me, neither.

Nobody wants to get out of bed bright and early for school.

Including me.

Especially me.

The novelty has already worn off.

And it hasn’t even been a full week.

Sure, my boys have been complaining of acute boredom for the last ten weeks.

But rarely is a child so bored that they eagerly anticipate returning to school.

My younger son seems especially over it already.

By day two, his alarm clock lay on the floor in pieces, its batteries scattered haphazardly.

It’s no fun for me, either.

There’s the stressful challenge of packing lunches they’ll actually eat.

And having to make sure they’re sanitary enough to be seen in public.

And worst of all…

Homework.

That’s no fun.

For anyone.

Not only that…

Yesterday, we had to do a second round of school supply shopping.

Because once obviously was neither fun enough nor expensive enough.

Or sanity-endangering enough.

Hooray for Walmart and their disorderly heaps of leftover back to school crap!

I mean, supplies.

And so it’s back to battling the clock.

And traffic.

And Walmart.

Yikes.

But now that the kids are back in school, it’s a great time for me to work on catching up on all the things I’d fallen behind on this summer.

Like cleaning.

And writing.

And reading.

And more cleaning.

Oh, who am I kidding?

I’ve somehow managed to fall behind in life as a whole.

I’d probably settle for catching up on sleep, at this point.

But there’s no rest for the weary.

Or the worried.

It’s hard to sleep while my mind gallops off like a crack-addicted race horse.

By the same token…

It’s also hard to accomplish anything that way.

So much to do.

So little motivation to do any of it.

But, hey.

At least my kids are being more productive at the moment.

They’re probably learning something  at school.

Maybe.

Hopefully.

So long, lazy days of summer.

Hello, back to school madness.

If nothing else, it’s back to devising ways of embarrassing my kids at school functions.

I suppose that counts as being productive.

Right?

~Happy weekend, friends! And Happy Birthday to my favorite mascot boy! Woo hoo!~

Augh! Not this again! Didn't summer just start?!

Augh! Not this again! Didn’t summer just start?!

Dog Days of Summer Break, Part 2

Get off the horse!!!

I mean, the dog!

The dog is not a horse!

I don’t care if you’re not actually sitting on him.

Does he look like he’s enjoying himself?!?

Well.

Looks like we’re ending the summer the same way we started it.

By tormenting the poor dog.

Since The Bigly Bestest Doggie hasn’t yet mastered eating at a table while seated in a chair, my boys have evidently moved on to bigger, better things.

Like transforming him into a horse.

Ah, well.

School starts next week.

So while the boys’ summer break is coming to a close…

The doggie’s break is finally about to start.

And just in time.

Who knows?

In another week, they might’ve turned him into a trash-eating goat.

Yikes!

~Happy Friday, friends! Can you believe it’s almost time for school again?! Where does the time go?~

Do I look like a horse? It's back to school for you, boy!

Do I look like a horse? It’s back to school for you, boy!

Dinner and No Motorcycle

Actually, no.

Let’s amend that to no motorcycle yet.

Building off of last week’s anniversary blog

Consider this a sequel of sorts.

Sadist that I am, I simply can’t have a good time without conducting myself like a glutton for punishment.

On the morning of my anniversary, I started off the day by going to work.

I got off early enough for us to still get out and do things, I reasoned, so I didn’t really need to take the day off.

So I went to work.

And I sliced a gash in my leg on the corner of a cardboard box.

I probably should’ve stayed home.

But at least I arrived home to a nice surprise.

My husband had gotten me a portable Shiatsu massager.

I put that sucker to work as soon as I yanked it out of the box.

And used it nonstop throughout that afternoon and evening.

Which led to bruising myself from prolonged use as I attempted to work out the billion tension knots in my neck.

Which hasn’t stopped me from using it every single day for the last week.

With my younger son’s help and insistence, my son…uh, I mean, husband, received a lovely video game for our anniversary.

Need for Speed Payback.

Because nothing says Happy Anniversary like a racing game.

In my defense, my child and I wandered each and every aisle at Target ten times over while hauling an overflowing hand basket.

Which was equal to the weight of a baby elephant.

Because it was loaded down with a dozen bottles of açaí  Vitamin Water that my child had tossed in.

And so we kept switching off basket-carrying duties as we continued to look for the perfect anniversary gift for the good part of an hour.

Somehow, we eventually settled on a PlayStation game as the perfect present.

At least my son…I mean, husband, has been thoroughly enjoying his new game.

Anyway, we didn’t actually make it out to dinner on our anniversary.

Because we decided to stay home and watch The Martian on Netflix.

So the following evening, we ventured into a nice little Italian restaurant we’d been talking about trying for the past couple of years.

And get this:

There were actual people in this restaurant!

And our waiter was not intoxicated!

Perhaps we should have asked the guy to quickly guzzle a few beers in an attempt to replicate our horrid seven-years-prior Greek restaurant anniversary experience?

Right.

We enjoyed some fried ravioli.

And lasagna.

And homemade bread.

No greasy, slimy, rock-hard monstrosities whatsoever.

The bartender even made a little chocolate syrup heart in my chocolate martini.

It was undoubtedly one of our better anniversary dining experiences.

So that was nice, for a change.

Now, as for our first-ever motorcycle we’d been contemplating buying back?

Turns out the dealership’s asking price was much too high.

Almost as much as we had sold it for two years ago.

And so we put in a more reasonable offer.

They declined.

Typical used vehicle over-inflation nonsense.

I guess there’s only one thing left to do:

Operation Steal Back Our Bike!

We do still have one spare key.

We could easily go in and get it back.

Just pop the key in and take off like bats out of hell.

Or not.

Because then I’d have to change this post title to Dinner and Jail.

~Happy Saturday, friends! Have a great weekend!~

Well, hello again, green Ninja!

Well, hello again, green Ninja!