Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bored Survivor

I call this one the "Mother/Daughter Bored Survivor Selfie"

Houston's Spirit

This woman has been going viral- breaking out into song in one of the temporary shelters at a convention center I've never heard of.  Her voice is beautiful.  She was on the news, and my dad said, "Hey let her stay with us" lol.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

20 years

I can't believe that today marks 20 years since "The People's Princess" was taken from this world.  It seems like yesterday.  I also don't know why I didn't realize that she was so young, only 36 when she passed away.  Possibly because I was still a teenager at the time, 36 seemed old, and she had to mature quickly with her many roles.

One thing that I'll also never forget- and this is silly- To watch her funeral was the last time in my life that I ever put bunny ears on the TV.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Houston is in trouble

I'm trying to stay positive, and I am glad to be at home in a mostly non-flooded area.  Those pictures above are not of rivers- those are highways, and they are downtown highways that I take almost every day.  I have a love/hate relationship with driving by that overpass with the graffiti that says "Be someone".  On one hand, it's encouraging, but  on another hand, everyone is someone no matter what.  But seeing the water almost all the way up to it was almost unbearable.  Here at home, the neighborhood streets are not flooded, nor is the main street outside of the subdivision, but the entrance of that main street onto the freeway is, and it's barricaded with a patrol car making sure no one tries.  

The death toll is only in the teens, but it's going to get so difficult as the waters recede and that number climbs.  The current death toll includes a police officer who drowned in his police car and a family of 6 (4 siblings and their grandparents) who are presumed dead after their uncle escaped the van and could not get them out.  

One great thing today was that I got to talk on the phone to one of my favorite blogging and vlogging buddies.  She was so positive and so refreshing to talk to.  She really cheered me up.   Her three oldest children all got married recently within a short period of time, and she kept referring to her daughter-in-law and two sons-in law as their "boyfriend-I mean-husband" and "girlfriend-I mean, wife" lol.  Connection started to fade and we started texting.  At the end of our conversation, she asked if she could do anything for me.  I said, pray for all of Houston.  Houston is big, resilient and strong, but we could still use it.  She responded that she would make mention of not only our city, but my cousin Evan's widow and daughter and me and my daughter in family time with her remaining children at home.  

Then I got to talk on the phone with my coordinator from child advocates.  She was also positive and refreshing to talk to, and expressed concern for me and my family as well as asked for updates on the children I am working with.  The one in foster care is doing well.  The one back with his mother, I am not so sure about.  I have a hunch that she is getting drunk through all of this.  I can sense it in her texts, but I can not make that accusation to my coordinator.  I simply told my coordinator that she seemed unwilling to speak to me and screenshotted the texts for her to make her own conclusions.  

We have it good except for the fact that we are stranded at home, but at least we are safe.  No one is open, not even Walmart.  Our biggest problem is that we're on the last package of toilet paper.  I'm serious.  

We watched on the news as the President took off in Air Force One to come here to Texas and wear a rain jacket for decoration.  As we watched the plane take off from DC, my dad cracked a joke.  He said, "If the President comes, tell him we need toilet paper".  I burst out laughing, and ended up with this song stuck in my head literally all day.    All these retro 90's songs are re-emerging.  

All in all, I just want things to get back to normal.  Some people are saying recovery might take a month.  I personally can't fathom that.  Hurricane Ike in 2008 was catastrophic, and Houston bounced back in the blink of an eye.  We weren't like the Katrina survivors who lingered on it for years.  We are the 4th largest city, a major economic force, and home to dozens of fortune 500 companies and every culture on Earth.  Do I need to get Air Force One out of my head and perhaps start singing.... "Wake Me Up When September Ends"?????

Monday, August 28, 2017

New Vlog

Below is a new vlog I made about a documentary being made in Canada about people with Tourette's.  Also pictured is my friend and former coworker right before getting dispatched to duty as a first responder.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hurricane update

To my surprise, Houston is completely flooded. I am still with my disabled client in League City. Annalise will not have school for a whole week, in fact the schools are being used for shelters. She is still with her dad and stepmom in Pearland, and I've been talking to her regularly. The apartment complex where I lived until December/January is completely destroyed. It is located right off of the Beltway and Beamer south. My apartment was on the second floor, but I can imagine the first floor ones are all ruined. I literally just saw people rowing boats down Beamer Rd, and there was the same places right across the street I used to walk to. I'm grateful for the Facebook feature that lets people check in as safe during a disaster. I know everyone I love is safe. My parents are fine, but when I called my dad said mom was asleep. I imagine he probably took all his anxiety out on her, so she went to bed to get away from him. He wouldn't do that if Annalise and I were there. Oh well, I'm getting paid pretty nicely. He's 75 years old and needs to learn to control his anxiety.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

We are experiencing a category 3 hurricane here in the Texas gulf coast. We do not have a mandatory evacuation here in Houston, though- the mandatory evacuations are for Corpus Christi and Port LaVaca. I got into an argument with my ex, because our divorce decree contains an addendum that states if he has her during a mandatory evacuation, I have the right to take her and evacuate.  But since our area has no mandate, I don't get to take her. My under the table client then called last minute
To come over for a few days. I think the news is overrreacting.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Good News

I am so, so, so excited that for fifth grade, my daughter chose to join orchestra.  She will be playing the Viola!  I tried suggesting the violin, because it might be easier, but she insisted that the viola sounds better.  I ordered it this evening to rent, and it will be delivered to her at her school.  Hooray!  I'm so excited, because I never learned an instrument, nor have I even learned to read music. My child is a superstar.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First Day of School

Annalise started 5th grade yesterday, which here in Texas means starting Middle School.  She was SUPER EXCITED.  Her teacher has been teaching for about 40 years and seems like such a cool old lady.  (Homeroom Teacher).  She has other teachers for other subjects, but her homeroom teacher is also her math teacher.  This is because Annalise placed advanced in math, and her homeroom teacher teaches that one math class for kids who tested the way she did.  It's a mix of 5th and 6th grade math.

I'm starting to realize that homeschooling might never happen for us.  I love the idea of homeschooling, but for one thing, Annalise thinks it's the worst thing that can ever happen to a kid.  Secondly, she has her heart set on entering 9th grade at the magnet high school for kids who want to be doctors.  I said I would love to put her there, but it's up to her dad to allow us to move closer into town, when he's already called the location of that school "The Hood".  Living in midtown Houston would be a godsend for me.

Here in Houston, we were supposed to get 67% view of the solar eclipse.  I didn't have to work, and Monday is slow for food delivery apps anyway (a lot of restaurants close Mondays), so I stayed home with my dad who is a hardcore Jerry Lewis fan.  Jerry Lewis passed away recently, and my dad was busy going back and forth from the movie marathon to the eclipse.  He made all kinds of contraptions to see it, but honestly, I didn't see anything.  At 1:45, which was peak time, the sky got slightly dimmer, but the sun looked no different.

Monday, August 21, 2017

I have a new baby cousin!!!

My favorite aunt Diane passed in 2012. Last year, she got her first great grandchild Michael who was named for both his father and maternal grandfather. Today, Aunt Diane's granddaughter had her second baby and not only is it a girl (yay)! But they named her Dia Marie. I love that. Partially named after my favorite aunt. I wish she was around to see all of this.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Social media break

First, one of my friends posted that tomorrow's solar eclipse was a sign of the end of America. How did she know this? Because her pastor told her that the last solar eclipse that went clear across the USA was in 1776, the year the USA "began".  She named other reasons why her pastor said it was a sign of end times- but here's a fun fact. The last time a solar eclipse went across the USA was in 1979, not 1776. Because her pastor said it, she feels like she has to believe it and can't fact check. I hate that.

Then, with all of the bringing down of confederate statues, someone posted that some liberal protesters actually knocked down and desecrated the tomb of the unknown soldier. This is also not true. After that, I'd had enough and just deleted the Facebook app from my phone.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I wish I had those skills

My old pediatrician, Dr. Kholenbrenner, was brought up in conversation the other day.  Throughout the years, my mother would bring up his advice for different ailments that ultimately nothing could be done for.  He was my doctor from my birth, probably until my family left Chicago when I was 14.
The other day, it hit me- Dr. Kholenbrenner just pulled random things out of thin air to tell my mother just because she didn't know better, and he wanted to shut her up.  To this day, she still believes that if you de-fizz a soda, it will settle an upset stomach.  (An upset stomach just has to resolve itself unless it's been too long).  I'm surprised he didn't prescribe skittles, although maybe he did and I just don't remember.

I laughed at my mom the other day and said, "Mom.  Dr. Kholenbrenner pulled things out of his rear end just to shut you up."

She retorted, "He saved your life!"  This is true- I had appendicitis at age 6, and the surgeon described it as "red hot and ready to go".

But, still.  Now that I am a grown up with some 20 years experience, I know what he was doing.  I just wish I had those skills.  His skills of strait-lacedly telling parents to do xyz even though there's really nothing to be done is something I definitely could use.  He was 78 when he died in 2001, which I guess would make him 94 now?  If he were still around, I'd ask his secret.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

50th anniversary woes

My mom and dad got married on 9/24/67, and that means their 50th anniversary is coming up.  Their plans were to do the one thing they love best- to take this senior citizens' bus to a casino in Louisiana.  However, with all the KKK stuff now in the news, my dad doesn't want to go.  The towns along the TX/LA border are infiltrated with KKK.  I reassured him- it's not that serious.  They'll just be on a big bus passing through.

My dad gets triggered easily with white supremacy, because of being born and raised in the south side of Chicago and being stationed with the Navy in 1960 in the deep south of Mississippi.  He has a million and one stories of the culture shock regarding segregation that was the norm in Mississippi but definitely not in Chicago.

It got worse when I taught my father the story of Emmett Till.  Emmett was only 14 when he was murdered, but he was a year older than my dad.  He lived in Chicago with his mother and wanted to visit Mississippi to see his cousins.  His mother let him, but she knew that he was not accustomed on how to act in the south.  She was from Mississippi and before he went, she taught him how to act and how not to act.  Nonetheless, Emmett chose to whistle at a white woman working in a shop and was brutally murdered for it.  His mother chose open casket to show the world what was done to her son.  It triggered my dad immensely.  He often tells of getting off the bus and walking with a black woman and two small children, helping her with shopping bags and getting spat in the face and roughhoused because they thought she was her husband.

I would say it isn't like that anymore, but- it is.  We just push it under the rug.  I hope my parents find a way to celebrate 50 years of not knowing how to live with and not knowing how to live without each other.    

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Father and a Mother

Today is the feast day of the virgin Mary in my parents' denomination.  If your name is Mary or Maria, it's also your namesday.  I view Mary a little differently.  Watch the clip as young Morgaine Le Fey explains to her younger half brother, the future King Arthur.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Back to school woes

i can't believe summer is almost over. The first day of school is August 21st. Here in Texas, things are done differently. Elementary school is only Pre-K - 4th grade. Middle school is 5th and 6th. Junior high is 7th and 8th. By then, I'm hoping we can convince Anna's dad to move closer into town so she can go to a magnet high school for kids who want to be doctors.

But back to the present. The school district is so disorganized that I was told a million different things about what I need to do and what I need to come up with for the new school for 5th grade. As a former CPS investigator, I know how teachers and principals call for every little thing, so I was pounding pavement to make sure there were no snafus. It made me so tired. I thought, how do people with more than one child do it?  Well from my lips to God's ears, because I quickly found out that my younger child advocates kid's foster parents have nothing on him. There is supposed to be an educational folder, and it's supposed to be green (for kids in state care). What the foster parents got was this Manila folder with two sheets of paper that hardly say anything. He was satisfactory in music, he behaves, etc. oh my goodness!!!  So I email the caseworker and her response was literally,

"The foster parents has the educational folder."

Parents has.

Ok now I get Texas ghetto slang, and I do use it, but I'm not about to use it in a professional email. Did you not take English, girlfriend? So I did some digging, found shot records, two forms of identity, and so on. What a mess!!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

R.E.M. - Losing my religion (The story behind the song)

We all grew up hearing the song "Loosing My Religion" by REM.  I loved it as a kid.  It's also spoken to me through a thousand different situations through the years.

The lead singer of REM (When did he get so old, by the way?) not only tells so eloquently about how it's not all really about religion, but about "unrequited love", but he explains PERFECTLY the struggle to write something genuine.

I can relate to that!  Writing "The Child Advocate" needs to be genuine as he says.  I can relate to throwing everyone out of a room and getting naked to do it, although it's never come to that.

Thanks REM for such a classic.   I hope I can leave mine behind as well.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I survived ikdg

Great news!  The kickstarter campaign for the 20 year follow up for the 1997 book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" has been fully funded, and will be made!

Please see the updated trailer at.

I like the new trailer better, mainly because it cuts off the statement from the woman that says "my only purpose in life was to someday be married". I'm so glad they cut her off. In the 90's the study groups around this book emphasized that your only purpose is "not" to be married. 

I also like it because it tells more of Jessica Van Der Wyngaard's story. One of the articles has a nice pic of her and her mom on a porch swing. I can't wait until it comes out. I want to watch it alone first and then show my daughter. My ex husband wants to see it, too, as well as some people from that church I'm still Facebook friends with (except, of course, the only one that actually got married)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Out of the mouths of babes

Annalise's favorite book series is Wings of Fire.  Book number 10 FINALLY came out on July 24th.  It arrived at our house on the 29th.

Anna was so excited to finally get it.  She said to me, "Mama, do you know how OLD this series is?"

"How old?" I asked.

"She started writing it in 2011!"

Oh, well that is quite ancient when you are 10 years old in 2017, isn't it?

Annalise also likes to draw dragons.  Each has minor different features and colors, and they are all related.  She wants to make them into a book such as these.  A few weeks ago, she came to me with a pretty extensive family tree of all of the dragons she created.  They were lovely, and I told her so, but I also told her, "When you are writing, you don't want to create too many characters, because it will confuse the reader."

She gave me the same exact look her father gives when he comes up with a comeback immediately.  "Mama?" she retorted.  "How far have you gotten in your book?"

Oh, Touche, kid.  Touche.  I was on a writing spurt a few months back, but the muses have left again.

We've also been planning Halloween already.  We didn't celebrate last year because of Evan's death and how the death representations everywhere were triggering.  This year, I'm over that, and we're having a great one.  When Annalise and I both took our ancestry DNA tests, she came back part Scandinavian and I did not (so it came from her dad).  She told me that she wants to honor the Viking side of her ancestry and be a Valkyrie for Halloween.  I was really excited and impressed, and we picked out this hat together.  I didn't order it yet, because we all know how kids change their minds.