Saturday, December 27, 2014

Homelessness in America

Over time our opinions and beliefs change. For that reason I'd like to share with you some facts, and personal experiences relating to an issue that has grown near and dear to my heart over the last year.

Lets start with the stats:

     In 2013 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that approximately 610,000 people were homeless in America. Another report indicated that up to 3.5 MILLION people would experience some form of homelessness in any given year.
     There are 32,000 homeless individuals in Florida. 8% of the nations homeless population resides HERE, and yet we have the most violence against homeless people. We have been deemed the most dangerous state for homeless people year after year. Our state legislature goes so far as to outlaw us from helping the less fortunate. 

I want to help change this. 

2 years ago if you'd asked me how I felt about homelessness I probably wouldn't have had much to say. Which isn't because I didn't care or empathize. I just wasn't educated, and I didn't understand. 

I went to school on Main St in Hyannis, MA. I talked to homeless people every day, and I never truly  saw their struggles. They didn't show them to me. I just saw them as peers. I was always willing to share a cigarette or my sandwich with them but I didn't really understand what homelessness was, or how close most of us are to it. 

A little over a year ago I read an article on, about how easy it is to become homeless, and what it entails. It really spoke to me, although I didn't do anything about it right away.

This year I put a lot of thought into what I'd like our Christmas traditions to be, and what kind of legacy I'd like to give to my children. I realized that I want to teach them about love, and about giving with no hope for a "return on investment". I wanted them to understand how lucky we are and also how much we have in common with those who aren't as lucky. So we made stockings for the local homeless people, and we brought the stockings to them. It was a small gesture but we all felt great afterwards.

Then, a few days ago, I recognized a homeless man outside of Firehouse, and I asked him to come inside and have lunch with me. He told me his story, he cried, and he thanked me, not just for the meal but for spending time with him and listening. Here is a snippet of what he told me:
He became homeless less than 6 months ago when his wife divorced him, for another man she had been cheating on him for 5 years of their 28 year marriage. He became unstable and had a mental breakdown. He selflessly checked himself into a mental health facility for a little under 3 months. When he got out he had defaulted on his mortgage, lost his car and a big chunk of his other assets. His job was not waiting for him. At this point he was heavily dependent on medication, considered himself unstable and violent and had no health insurance, however he did have a decent amount of savings. He went thru over 20 thousand dollars in the past 3 months. Staying in hotels, eating out constantly, paying for his medication, etc. Admittedly his decisions were not awesome, but at the time he was mostly worried about NOT murdering anyone. Despite the fact that he is now living on the street, without a job and coming off of almost all his medication he says that going to the hospital was still a good decision because he can live with nothing, but he could not live with blood on his hands. He was visibly anxious during our lunch, and I told him that I too suffer from anxiety and depression, that it's nothing to be ashamed of, and that I appreciated him sharing his story with me when it must have been very difficult. He once again teared up and told me that his 3 grown children didnt know he was in the hospital, or that he's homeless. That his parents, friends, ex wife etc are all clueless. That he hasn't been in touch with anyone. I gave him the change I had in my car and asked him to please call his family and atleast say merry christmas. I also gave him my "card" because it had my number on it and asked him to please call me if he needed to talk.

This brings me to my major point. The revelation I've had this year thru my own financial blunders and inexperience mistakes: It could happen to me. It could happen to you. It could happen to anyone. 

Homelessness is not always the result of a lifetime of fucks ups. Sometime's it's just one or two mistakes that can leave you on the street. Sometimes, no mistakes are even made at all. So before you look down on someone and assume they have a drug or alcohol problem or that they just aren't willing to try just imagine the hundreds of ways circumstances could put YOU in their shoes.

I'm not saying I'm gonna make a huge difference in the homeless populace. I'm probably not. But I AM going to treat them with dignity and respect. I'm going to continue to have lunch with people I know need it, and I'm going to bring some dollar store necessities to the homeless camps when I can. I'm going to treat these people like they're my friends because any one of my friends could easily be in their position. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Give charitably this "christ"mas

Omaze offers a variety of experiences. Where you can donate to a charity, earn swag, and be entered to win some awesome prizes. Hanging out with Ian Somerhalder, for example. Oh pick me, pick me.

Alternative gifts international allows you to send authentic life giving gifts to a needy world and help those in crisis while preserving the earth's endangered environment. Yes. That is awesome.

The holiday project organizes visits for people in nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions.

Other great organizations are wwf, clean water projects, the water project, red, and the human rights campaign to name a few.

Make the holiday season about giving, sharing, and instilling family values instead of greed and competition.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving thanks

This year I am so very thankful.

I am thankful that I have 2 children that are so healthy they border on perfect. Who are mentally and physically sound. That I am not sitting in the hospital listening to every breath as though it might be their last.  That they both have crawled, walked, and talked without any problems. I am thankful above all that they are here for me to snuggle and love.

I am thankful for my amazing fiance who always does the best he can. Who is the perfect other half for me and who focuses on all the things that I ignore and vice versa.

I am thankful for the roof over my head and that I have never had to put my children to bed hungry.

I am thankful for friends both near and far who always offer their help in whatever capacity they are able, and I am equally thankful for the opportunities they have given me to help them back.

I am thankful for my mother who is the strongest, best person I know.  I was very lucky to be raised by the most genuinely caring and wonderful person I know.

I am thankful for opportunities.  For jobs, for education,  for experiences and everything in between.  I live in a country where I can be just about anything I want if I work hard enough and that's pretty incredible.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

If you'd like to buy me a christmas present

Here are some things I'd totally love getting:

This down payment site is technically for my wedding but I'd appreciate contributions anytime.

I wanna swim with manatees for $10.
Or go on a safari for $20.
I'd dig dinner at medieval times for $30.

You can also contribute cash to our wedding planning or send us gift cards to just about anywhere.

The boys would love educational toys, books, science and building type stuff, or gift cards.

Hayden would especially like this personalized book.

You could also adopt our family a tiger.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pets are family. Family is forever.

Today marks the one year anniversary of my Madison's death. I celebrated by crying a lot, looking at pictures, and visiting the SPCA and checking out some dogs. I told myself going in that I wasn't going to being anyone home with me today but secretly I was hoping that one of them would whisper to my soul, saying "I'm yours. I've been waiting for you." I met 3 dogs that I considered for my family. I had narrowed it down to 3 pretty easily. These were dogs who's signs did not say "aggressive towards children" and whom didn't bark madly at me when I came in. I'll be returning tomorrow with my fiance to take a closer look.

While I was there I read signs that told me a bit of their backstory. Sign after sign reading "owner surrender" "new baby" "moving" "too loud" "too big". Imagine visiting an orphanage like that. It broke my heart. For me, my dogs have always been a member of my family. I could never surrender them to a possibly horrible fate just because my life circumstances changed. No more than I would give away my children.

The first dog that was ever "mine" came from an MSPCA in Brewster near my childhood home. She was an amazing yellow lab, golden retriever pup who changed me in unexpected and wonderful ways. I picked her out of all the puppies because when I, a painfully shy 7 year old, sat down in a kennel full of puppies she calmly crawled into my lap for snuggles.  It turned out the reason she was so calm and cuddly was because she had parvo,  a disease that usually kills puppies.  We got her the veterinary care she needed and she lived a well mannered, long  and happy life with us. I cannot imagine taking her back because she was sick or ever abandoning her. She sang to my soul. I looked at her and she was instantly mine, from then until she went home to the rainbow bridge.

When I was 15 I met the next love of my life. My family went to visit friends in VT, as we did every summer, and a good friend of my mother's,  Joy, had recently gotten 2 young rottweilers. One, had been planned and purchased from a breeder.  Another, had been brought to a local vet to be put to sleep when her owners could not afford her eye surgery. Joy and her daughter Juli paid for the surgery and Joy took her home. Again, upon meeting her, another dog sang to my soul. I begged my parents and their friend endlessly, until finally with the agreement I would take her to obedience school they relented and let me take her home. I'm sure that once or twice when stepping in massive dog piles in the backyard they may have rethought it, but Madi was immediately a member of our family and we held her close even as she died.

My family has always had rescues. From our one legged dog Venus, one legged cat Sam, to my dad's "street dog" Polly. We've always kept anything that "followed us home". I don't think I could ever buy from a breeder when I know how many animals are displaced every year by "owners" who somehow change their minds.

If you think, within a shadow of a doubt that you could change your mind about a dog, don't take them home. Get a fish, see how that goes. Or maybe a house plant.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

More on how not to judge people.

Ok, let's be honest. We have ALL had those moments when we see someone and judge them prematurely. We all have our built in biases we've gained from years of experience interacting with other humans, even those of us who do our best to suppress them. Some of us, myself included, really hate ourselves in those moments. Sometimes it can be hard to look at someone who is "morbidly obese" and not judge how they must be living their lives. Once you get in a bad habit of classifying those around you it can be extremely difficult to break.

So how do we stop?

It's not as difficult as you may think. The first step to progress is to get to know many different kinds of people. That means befriending those of different races, genders,  sexualities, religions, backgrounds, body types, political beliefs, etc from yourself.  The truth of the matter is that fat girl eating a burger doesnt need your judgment. She may be the sweetest person you ever meet. The big black guy with his pants around his face might be a great shoulder to cry on. The strict catholic republican may have more in common with the liberal lesbian than you would ever know, unless you started talking to one another. We're all sharing the human experience. We all have so many things in common. We're all loving, eating,  drinking, sleeping, and breathing on this same planet and we have to share it.

It's unbelievably detrimental to your social and moral being to judge people on outside appearances or any one facet of their character. The more diversified your social is the more educated and informed you will be. If your Facebook news feed is 100 people posting the same article it might be time to switch things up. Maybe go to a different bar, take your dog to a different dog park, try out another church, go to an ethnic restaurant you've never tried before. Trust me it'll be worth it.

Respecting other people's life choices.

While this is a very broad statement, one which I could go on about for days, I'm going to stick to one particular invasive judgment I've seen thrown around a lot lately, especially in parent circles.

How many times have you seen someone say, "I don't want to have kids" and then a flood of "you'll change your minds" and arguments as to why said person SHOULD have kids. There are a range of reasons this bothers me so much.

One: Whether someone does or does not have children is 100% theirs (and their partners) choice. It's not for you to decide or even have an opinion on. Just like a million other things I will get to at a later date.

Two: They aren't saying it to insult you. Just because you have kids and you're happy does not mean this is a personal attack on your familial life. You can in fact continue to be happy (or unhappy) with your decision to procreate regardless of whether or not all your friends want kids just like yours. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't enjoy your children or that they aren't happy for you and your family. It just means THEY DONT WANT KIDS.

Three: In the U.S. 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. 101,666 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 32% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted. That's almost 400 thousand kids without permanent families. I dare you to tell someone to have a kid they don't want again. It is beyond ignorant.

Four: I have wanted children since approximately the first time I saw a baby. I've been going on about wanting babies since an alarmingly early age. I love kids. I nannied for years and have always known without a shadow of a doubt that I want to be a mother. I STILL have bad days. There are still days I question my decision, times when I have to count to ten or walk away. There are moments that my children test the limits of my patience. Now imagine if I had not wanted them, if I did not view my children as the very best gift life could give me. I don't think life would be very pretty for any of us.

Five: Every child deserves to be the light in their parents life. To tell someone who knows in their heart that they are incapable of giving a child that level of love is despicable.

So stop. Stop telling young women that they'll change their minds. Stop sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. Resist the urge to ask if someone's mom wants grandkids. Their family dynamic is THEIR choice. Do not ask every single young married couple when they're gonna have kids. It's not your business.

This goes both ways might I add. Do NOT ask the young parent if their child was planned. Don't inquire as to how much they miss the nightlife. Don't make judgments about their financial situation and whether they should be bringing a child into this world. Stop looking at the mom with 6 kids paying with food stamps with such disdain. IT ISN'T YOUR BUSINESS. You don't know their story, situation, or heart. Live and let live ladies and gentleman.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why won't my toddler sleep?

I have put that question into Google so many times I think if search engines could get tired Google would need a nap. I know I do. I have tried every suggestion under the sun, even ones that I thought were weird. Yet here I am, 1230 at night rambling in my blog.  My son will sleep if I am touching him. Only if I am touching him. I would cosleep at this point if it weren't for the fact that he's prone to waking up in the middle of the night and trying to get out of bed. My bed is highly escapable. It is the anti alcatraz. If I could figure out a way to sleep in his crib with him I would probably do that. But instead I am here on my living room floor with my son spooning my left knee and cooing in his sleep. 

Some parents, quite a lot of them actually would probably tell me to throw him in his crib and let him cry it out. Sure. You come listen to him scream because it tears the very fabric of my being a part and he doesn't calm down after 15-20 minutes. He keeps scream crying until I go in and pick him up. Not daddy, oh no. Daddy just will not dude. Dad's are great for playing when the sun is up. My son will giggle and run for the door as soon as daddy is home from work. But at midnight, 2 am, 4 am, or 11 pm only mama will do. God forbid I awaken my deeply sleeping fiance and send him after the baby. No that will only end in a grumpy daddy and a splintered door from my son attempting to tear his way into my bedroom.

This child is persistent. I didn't know a kid could kick a door for so long without passing out at 2 am until I met hayden.

He's lucky that during daylight hours he plays, cuddles, giggles and smiles with all the cuteness one little body can muster.  Otherwise I probably wouldn't be here with my back against a coffee table wondering how long before my knee goes completely numb.

I wouldn't trade it. Not a second of it. I know that in a blink of an eye he'll be off in the world making a life for himself with his own children tormenting him in the middle of the night. So I'll be thankful for my tingling knee and my aching back because they are side effects of the kind of love a mother only gets to huge her child for a little while. I'll appreciate the times he needs me because soon enough they'll come fewer and farther between.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Enjoying the small things

Sometimes depression can be an abyss that you can't imagine escaping from. It can be so very heavy.  The weight of it can push you so deep into the darkness that you can't picture a life with any light at all. The last week has been like this for me.

Some people will tell you that you can't give into it at all or that you have to fight it every single day. Others may say that there's nothing you can do about it, that it's a hormone imbalance and you need medication. I have my own view.

For me depression has been a lifelong struggle. I can remember battling it long before I knew the proper name for it. When bad things happen I spiral. When good things happen I have trouble recognizing them and truly feeling the joy in them.

So when my grandma died immediately after I lost my job and I sprained my ankle on my trip back home I spiraled. I laid in bed all day. I took 4 hour naps. I had anxiety attacks about leaving my bedroom. I couldn't breathe when the phone rang. I stopped talking to my friends and family. I hid, and I only came out to perform the basic functions of being a mother. I didn't play with my children. I fed them and bathed them but I did not take joy in them.

I let my depression win. I let grief and anxiety cripple me... but I knew I would take myself back. This is how I manage what has and will continue to be my disease. I ate ice cream and didn't exercise. I barely left the house. I gave it 7 days. And on the 7th day, today I took myself back. I got up and I watched my children play in the sunlight on our porch and I laughed with them. I smiled. I played. I made dinner for my family. I tickled my babies. I talked to my son about his day. I played video games with him. I did laundry.  I exercised. I went for a walk with my family. I watched the sunset through a rainstorm and appreciated the symbolism. I took a long shower. I shaved. I kissed my children. I had sex (sorry mom). I laid with my baby and snuggled him to sleep and was thankful for all the blessings in my life. I found things to be grateful for instead of things to be angry or sad about. I took joy in the little things.

This does not mean my war with mental illness is over. It means that I have won a very small battle. A victory that I should, and will, celebrate. Today I chose to chisel out my own happiness. My world is a little bit brighter. Will I have an anxiety attack tomorrow?  Probably. But I have promised myself that I will pick up my baby and squeeze him and remember how lucky I am to have such abundant love in my life.

How to create an awesome, professional email signature

So it's no secret that I've been jumping around from job to job lately. My last 2 positions just weren't really the fit I needed and I'm currently seeking gainful employment while "technically" still employed by my last employer. Long story, don't ask. Anyways, I learned a while back that an impressive email signature can make a big impression on a possible employer, and I had to check a couple different sources to get all the details I needed to make mine picture perfect. So here's my how to.

Step 1

Decide what you want to say. This has a couple of variables. Do you want to highlight your current employment, personal life, skills, etc. For me I chose to use my name, position, company, social media links, and a quote that I really liked. It may be different for you, and you may have to fool around with a couple ideas before you come up with something you think encapsulates the real "you".

Step 2

Get there in your settings. Instructions for: gmail, outlook, yahoo and aol. If you have another email provider I am sure that youtube has the instructions.

Step 3

I chose to highlight my professional life in this format:

Contact Number

Step 4

Now with gmail I have the option to turn pictures or words into links by highlighting them and clicking the link option. So I chose to link 4 of my social media outlets to my signature with the matching logo. I used iconfinder to find the icons I wanted in the right size for me. I used 16X16.

Step 5

I found an awesome quote that works for just about anything I could be applying for and added it to the bottom of my signature. 

The end result:

May your fingers rest from their weary googling.

Sunday Dinner!

So Sunday nights my fiance gets off work at 5, which for him is pretty early. As such, we get to eat dinner as a family! A bit of a rarity round these parts. We tend to all eat separately when we're hungry and the kids are primed for bed before he even gets home most nights. 

Tonight it's scalloped potatoes, garlic roast chicken, sweet carrots, cheesy broccoli, stuffing with sauteed zucchini and sweet peppers. Find my recipes below:

Scalloped Potatoes


  • 4 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz Swiss cheese finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon crumbles


1. Place a third of the potatoes in a shallow 3-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper; sprinkle half over potatoes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of each cheese and half of the onions. Repeat layers. Top with remaining potatoes. Pour milk over all. 

2. Cover and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until potatoes are nearly tender. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with parsley and bacon crumbles.

Sweet Carrots


  • 1 pound bag baby carrots
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Place all ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan

2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender and the sauce becomes a shiny glaze. (about 15 minutes) 

3. Remove from heat and serve.

I used this recipe for my garlic roast chicken.

I cheat and use Stove Top for my stuffing, but I mix it up by throwing in some sauteed zucchini and sweet peppers.

I hope all of you are enjoying time with your families this Sunday.

Why are we still voting bipartisan?

Ok, so, seriously? What is going ON here? Am I the only one who hasn't drank the kool-aid or are there others of you out there? Based on the most recent elections I'm starting to think I'm alone here. Did I miss the mixer where we all agreed that the only 2 parties worth considering were Democrats and Republicans? Personally, I voted libertarian almost the entire ballot. My Mom, who is my hero btw, voted Rainbow, Green and Independent. Where were the rest of you? Is everyone who disagrees with the way this country is being run just staying home on election day? 

I'm the last person to try to push my political opinions on anyone. I really couldn't care less what you believe or how you choose to express it, unless you AREN'T expressing it. Simply put the Millenials just aren't voting. Now I understand that we'd be hard pressed to outvote the baby boomer generation because well, there are a kajillion of them. However are we really just going to let our parents and grandparents decide on laws that will be effecting us long after they're gone? 

How did question 2 not get passed in Florida you ask? BECAUSE YOUNG PEOPLE AREN'T REGISTERED TO VOTE. 58%. That's 2% sly of people in chronic pain having relief? 2% away from people getting chemo being able to keep down their dinner? 2% away from a lifestyle that doesn't involve hiding to get the treatment they need. Click here for more info on medicinal marijuana. 

How do we keep re-electing the same officials that have screwed us over time and time again, who's records indicate that they have no moral guidelines beyond their own bottom dollar? I'll tell you how. We are sticking to an outdated bipartisan system. A system that has broken itself down, and apart so many times that it no longer even resembles what this country originally stood for. Democrat Vs Republican. When they used to be one party. Yes ladies and gentleman that is how similar they are. Democratic-Republican VS Whig VS Federalist VS Anti-Masonic etc etc etc. That's how things are supposed to be done. The election should not be between 2 candidates with the deepest pockets but a range of candidates from different backgrounds who run on their political ideals, not their bank accounts.

So, register to vote in Florida, in Massachusetts, in Georgia, or wherever you may be.
Then, get informed. Check out the Libertarians, the Green-Rainbow Party, the Green Party and the Constitution Party, If none of those seem quite right for you check out this extended list of political parties. But whatever you do, even if it is vote for a democrat or a republican, get out there and make your voice be heard. If you want to take a bigger part check out campaigning.

Read about Ranked choice voting and breaking the hold of the two party system here.

Stay tuned for future political rants, reviews, parenting advice, and adventures.

See ya next time.