Thursday, October 30, 2008

Family Portraits

I decided this year, rather than let Todd take our family picture, I'd set up a JC Penny portrait session. They're reasonably priced and I've liked what we've had in the past from them. The girls did great. Todd insists that when he smiles his eyes get "squinty". Whatever. The girls got on his case for not smiling. Still he didn't put out.























































Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Needs Sleep

Paula who is my oldest, age 7.5, does not want to sleep in her room. She hasn't for many months. She'll start out in there, most times, then end up on our floor in a sleeping bag. It's gotten to the point where we're irritated and want her to sleep in her own room the entire night. She hasn't done that in months.

Her reasons:
1. She sees shadows - Well of course you do! You have enough night lights to compete with the Vegas strip! No Mommy, not those shadows, other shadows. Paula, if you close your eyes you won't see anything. I know but I'm scared.
2. She hears noises - Honey, the world makes noise. But they scare me. What if a burglar is trying to come in. We live in a safe neighborhood. You're fine. But I'm scared.
3. She's afraid of burglars - Runs down stairs because the dog is barking - Why is Rosie barking? Because she heard a noise (probably the raccoon trying to get into my house). It's fine, go back to sleep. I can't. I'm scared.
4. Worried about the burglar again - Mommy, did you lock ALL the doors? Are you sure? Yes, I'm sure. But I'm still scared.

Really it's never ending. We'll toss her back in her room after explaining all the reasons why she should feel safe but in the end she'll literally start crying A LOT, not just a little. It will be past 10pm by the time we finally decide we too need to go to bed. Her lights are out by 8:30pm if that gives you any idea of how long this goes on. On rare occasions she'll fall asleep, then wake up in the middle of the night and need to come in our room. Sending her back does not work. She cries and is adamant that she can't be in her room.

When she was 3 years old she had a fear of Tigers. Yep, tigers. IN.Her.Room. Todd came up with a brilliant idea (someone maybe helped us on this...I'm not sure). He took a plain spray bottle, printed and taped a friendly cartoon tiger on it and it became the Tiger Spray. Paula could spray her room before bed to prevent tigers from entering. Sometimes the floor and bed got pretty wet. There is no tiger spray that is going to help us out now.

She's a worrier. If someone told to describe Paula in 5 words or less I'd say worrier as one of those top 5. She worries about so much for a child her age. Will it hurt? What will it feel like? What will happen?

She was a complete wreck on her first plane ride to Disneyland at age 5 to the point she was actually throwing up. We were walking through first class and I'm saying "it's not the flu, she's just scared". Yeah, like they believed me. She was almost just as scared as we waited to go on the monorail. Now of course both riding in planes and the monorail are her 2 FAVORITE THINGS EVER. It took her 2 years to agree to go on the Matterhorn because she was scared of what it would feel like. Now it's her FAVORITE THING EVER.

She threw up on a dentist from crying so hard just because he wanted to look in her mouth. Just look. Nothing else. I changed dentists. She goes to mine now who I must say is much better for Paula. Now she likes getting her teeth scraped but for a long time that metal tool was her total enemy because it might hurt. When she sees a little blood on the pad as they're scraping her teeth near her gums we have to lie and say it's not blood because she starts to panic.

Even if she's in our room she doesn't always sleep well. There are some nights she lays awake a long time. Getting her up in the morning is rough on those days.

She'll be the first one to tell you she wants to be able to sleep in her room, she just can't. She doesn't like being different. She recognizes she doesn't like many foods, can't sleep in her room, is afraid of many things. She knows she's different from her sister and other kids at school. We try to boost her ego up and brag on all the things she's great at which sometimes works but not always.

We're at loss. I am going to send a letter to her counselor at school so that they can discuss this topic. Maybe someone else can reach her.

If anyone has any ideas or has experienced this I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

National Household Travel Survey

I'm a sucker sometimes. I know what your thinking. YOU?! A sucker? No way.

It's true. Usually when telemarketers call (or anyone I don't know really) I quickly hang up. I can't even bother to be nice. I just say "Not Interested". Clank.
However, if they're good and doing a survey I can usually be convinced to stay on the phone.

Last week a lady called from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Anything with a title like U.S. Department in it I hesitate to hang up on them. She was asking me questions about our cars, age, simple stuff. Then she suckered me into agreeing to do a National Household Travel Survey where my family and I (yes, even Shawna and Paula must track their travels for a day) recording every where we go & how long it takes.

Yesterday was the day.

There was $2.00 for each of us in the envelopes provided. (I kept all the money. I'm evil like that).

I'm basically calculating it all up today. Thank goodness for Mapquest who can give me the miles per locations. I realize I'm not doing this survey the exact way they want but they're getting their info. Except for times. I'm not sure on exact times but I'm fairly close.

I feel I'm going a good service for my country. Yep, when our transportation departement tells you it takes 45 minutes to go from X to Y you can thank me for that information. (give or take a few minutes).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bad idea

On Friday the girls didn't have school. I was watching two girls from their school along with my own. Later in the day they took out the skateboard. For some unknown reason I thought it would be a good idea to show the new girls how to do it. You know, because I used to skateboard when I was a kid. Yeah. While trying to lift the front up and turn the bloody thing, I proceeded to fall back right on my rump, and hands. My entire body is achy even today...3 days later.

Mental note: Do not attempt to skateboard when you're 40 and it's been 30 years since you've practiced.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Note passing

My oldest Paula got busted in class for passing notes to a boy. According to her the boy started it. He would write "write something" and she would pass back a note that said "no". The teacher caught them and gave them a warning. Boy passes a note again saying "Write something" and Paula passed it back writing "No!". Busted again! Now a note comes home to the parents where we must speak to child, sign off on note and give punishment.

Note passing isn't a huge deal, compared to pinching a boy which she did last week. Mental Note: I'll have to ask if this is the same boy. I told her she was losing 30 minutes of TV last night. Her anguish over that punishment was equalled to me pulling out her finger nails one by one. She cried, she begged, NO MOMMY!!!!! Bawling, begging me to stay in the bedroom so we can discuss this more. In the end we forgot and she barely missed 5 minutes.

However, this morning Shawna was being a pest, breathing on her sister. You know how that goes. MOMMY!!! SHAWNA WON'T STOP BREATHING ON ME!!!! I ignored them. I was having major hair issues and couldn't be bothered.

I get downstairs finally where Shawna is crying because Paula threw a brush at her head which whacked her with the hard part. Now I'm pissed. You can yell in our house but you are not allowed to hurt, hit, push, pinch, spit, etc. Now she's lost TV for the entire night. She's barely upset because tonight is hours away right? Wait until tonight. That's when the crying and begging will start. Can't wait.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hectic Life


You know how some days you just can't pull it together? Like an outfit that you just can't get to look right? Like most people, my life is hectic. I always have a few balls in the air at a time. Below are the things going on lately.

1. Work:
a. I have a new director, PMS, who is changing the way we do things. I'm fine with change as long as it works. She spouts she's not a micro manager but in truth, she is. She's the type of manager who after you have a conversation with her she takes her notebook (or computer) and types out the conversation. Yeah, I had a controller like her at my last job who in the end I called The Devil. To this day, the only person I continue to hate is The Devil. She completely mistreated me and gave me a bad rap. I've tried to forgive but it isn't happening. I'm really hoping PMS does not become The Devil Jr.

b. We're having a major layoff at work coming up. So major that roughly 74o people worldwide will be affected. I've been at my job 9 years. I love this company. Love it. I'm very involved in many aspects of the company. As much as I'd like 9 months or so of severance, I'd hate to lose my job. The job market sucks right now. We can't afford for me not to work. I'm praying I get to keep my job.

c. Take in account A and B and I have no idea what my chances of survival are at work. I'm generally an optimistic person. I know that whatever happens is part of a larger plan.

2. My daughter Paula:
a. She requires ortho work. She's 7.5 yrs old, which is when you should have your children evaluated in that area according to the ortho folks. She requires a Stage 1 plan which will include a palate expander among some other work. $3500 worth to be exact. We have a good benefits plan (although I was just told my company may be trying to save money by changing our benefits package come June) where $1500 for ortho is covered. Still, not a good time for spending money. Yesterday she had the Xrays necessary. All this will be happening in the next month or so. As much as she's asking for ortho, when it comes to actually wearing the device and dealing with the pain and discomfort, I'm not looking forward to that battle. Since she only has one side of her mouth that needs expanding, her retainer expander is removable. Why they can't make a permanent one for one side is beyond me.

b. Paula also has tongue thrust. When she swallows she pushes her tongue up against her front teeth. This act has caused her front teeth to move forward. We have an appointment on Saturday with an Orofacial Myofunctrional Therapist (say that fast 3 times) to evaluate her. How she eats, swallows and speaks will be analyzed. How much will this cost? I have no idea. The first meeting is free.

3. School:
a. I volunteered to the Box Tops coordinator. I have hundreds of tiny itty bitty box tops in my house that I need to bundle into counts of 50 and mail by October 31st at the latest. I haven't even begun to bundle.

b. I'm on a grass committee at school where we meet every Monday night. In the next coming weeks we're having a trial period to get our kids playing on our baseball fields. (long story). In order for this to work we need 5 more parent volunteers for yard duty. May not happen. I have to cover one of those lunch periods since I'm on the committee. That will be a 2 hour lunch including driving time. (See 1 a & B to know this isn't a great idea)

c. I'm on the Grants Committee at school. We're meeting tonight at 7pm. I have to write at least one grant in November.

d. There is no school on Friday. I have to take a PTO day to watch my kids. I'm also watching 3 other kids.

e. For Halloween our kids get to dress up for Halloween for the first time in years at school. Parents were asked to participate in Trunk or Treat. You decorate your trunk and park in the parking lot and the kids come around and collect candy. I have to take a PTO day for that as well. (See 1. A & B to know that taking PTO days right now is not a great idea).

4. Home
1. Sunday I scheduled family portraits at JC Penny for our holiday cards. I still don't know what we're wearing.

2. I received a call from the department of transportation to do a survey next week and record everywhere we drive for a day. They paid me $8.00. Todd is supposed to do it too but I doubt he will.

I'm sure there are more balls in the air but I have to go work and earn my keep.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

6 Things I Value and Don't Value

Wow! I received another award from Nanas Box. Thanks Angie!



Here are the RULES for the Award: *Mention the blog that gave you the award and comment on their blog to let them know that you have posted their award. You also have to list 6 things you VALUE and 6 things you Don't VALUE. Lastly, you have to pass the award onto 6 other friends!

Six Things I Value: (In no particular order)
1. My Family: I love my family. My parents, my brother, my daughter's and my husband. Granted, my husband can be an ass, but he's an awesome father. As my girls father I value him a lot.

2. Optimism: Where would we be without optimism? Todd, my husband, is a pessimist which bugs the crap out of me. I prefer to think positively. I like being around positive thinking people.


3. Technology: I value technology. I value all technology, medical and otherwise. If you've ever gone camping where you have to pee in a stinky porta potty, you have no heat and it's freezing out, or no air conditioning and it's blazing hot out & no running water, then your easily reminded about technology and how awesome it is.

4. Wine: I value my nightly wine beverage like nobodies business. Do not get between me and my wine.

5. Chocolate: Nuff said.

6. Friendship: I have lots of acquaintances and a small number of close friends. I value my friends, their opinions, their advice and how they enrich my life.

Things I Don't Value: (In no particular order)
1. Rudeness: To the people who find it okay to be rude to other people get a life or get off my planet.

2. Disease: Thanks to technology we can cure many diseases, but many lose the battle. I personally fear Cancer will be my way out of this world sooner than I'm ready to go.

3. Bad Manners: I do not wish to see or hear your food as you chew, or have you steal my parking spot that I've been waiting patiently for, or cut in front of me in line, or see me walking to the door but don't hold it open for me, or the many other things that you do. Bad manners go together w/with rudeness. Go to etiquette school if that's what it takes!

4. War: Who is it good for? Can't we all just get along.

5: Racism/Bigotry: Again, get off my planet

6: High gas prices: Seriously, WTF?

I pass this award to:
A Renez-Vous with Style
Clipper Girls Savings Spot
Stampin Mom
Braken Cam
Life Just keeps Getting Weirder
Bebes Peaches and Dreams

Monday, October 20, 2008

Great America

I bet you thought this post was going to be about how great America is didn't you? Nope. Here in the Silicon Valley was have an amusement park called California's Great America. It's had other names like Paramount's Great America and I even think one other. We just call it Great America because who can keep track each time someone else runs the darn place.


We went there this past Saturday. I hadn't been there in 10 years but my girls had been many times with their past daycare person. I didn't realize how done up it is in October for Halloween. Some of the kiddos had their costumes on. Very cute.

This is the double decker carousel. We did both levels. This is the top level.


I was planning on going on this ride but the kid running it miscounted and by the time I got my kids strapped in all the cars were filled.


Shawna my roller coaster queen. She actually went on The Demon with me! It goes upside TWICE! She was supposed to go back and tell Paula if it was scary or not. I told her to be honest. She told Paula it was fun, but it made her stomach hurt and she thought she had a bloody nose when it was over. She really knows how to sell something eh? LOL Paula choose not to go on it.


All of us went on this Dora ride where you pumped a lever to make it go up higher. We sucked. We could barely get the thing up.


Same ride w/ Paula and Todd

Below was the COOLEST thing ever. They had a bubble machine and hay surrounded the area. The kids LOVED this place. We brought their swim suits because we weren't sure if the water area would be open or not. It was closed but they came in handy for this area. Check it out!
My girls heads are in there somewhere.

Miss P

The Shawnanator


BUBBLE FUN!


This is a Spongebob ride that you get spun around in this boat. I loved it. So did the girls. Todd doesn't do roller coasters or spinny rides so he took all the pictures.

I hate this ride where your dangling by chains. They loved it.


Below is a total toddler ride. Shawna wanted to go on it so Paula did too. Paula was sooo bored. LOL


Having fun Paula?

Yesterday Todd came home from his dads with his old car race track. They cleaned it up and raced cars. That man gets rid of nothing I swear.





Thursday, October 16, 2008

8 Awards of Attention

So this cool gal Pinki left me a comment saying she likes my blog so she’s giving me an award. An award?! Me?! Awe, you shouldn’t have. I’ve never received an award before. Well, not since school. Okay, I did receive a Hot Potato award at work once for organizing a sort night at our local food bank. We sorted and boxed 4500 pounds of potatoes. Seriously. But that was years ago. So of course immediately RAN to Pinki’s blog to see what was up. What could this award be? I quickly learned that Pinki has a really cool blog herself. Check her out!

This is what my award means.


“This blog invests and believes, in ‘proximity’ [meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' - being close through proxy] "They are all charming blogs, and the majority of them aim to show the marvels of friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate?"

Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to eight bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.



Since this award goes to people who are charming, unselfish, and I want to give them more attention, I pass on this award to these eight bloggers. Some are my fave blogs that I check daily, others are newer that I just discovered.

Twenty Four At Heart
Lynns Life Online
Texas Word Tangle
Fingerprints Left Behind
So Many Smiles
Parenting Pink
Nana's Box
Nanny Goats In Panties

So please visit these cool blogs and of course Pinki since she’s the amazing gal that passed this terrific award on.

Video of Shawna riding without training wheels


I wanted to post this so it doesn't get lost on my computer.

video

click click

5am this morning I was sleeping. Rosie is laying in my room. She hears something, leaps up, barking and running to the stairs. Before she even makes it to the stairs I hear the dog door magnets clinking together. clink clink


THE RACCOON! That little sucker was trying to get in my house again but Rosie heard him pop his head in. Some of you may remember how we had a similar visitor many months ago, February's Raccoon. The one I saw last night was much bigger.




Rosie is outside barking like crazy. I open the window on top of the stairs, which looks out to the backyard. I tell Rosie to quiet down, then see the Raccoon run away off my fence and over my neighbors storage area roof, next to my fence, to the house behind and kitty corner to ours.




Rosie was sniffing around like crazy. She knew exactly where it had been. I got her inside and locked the dog door. Crap. I hate having to do that because Rosie already can't manage to do her business outside on a regular basis, if the door is locked for sure she won't. I also don't want a raccoon inside my house.


In other news, last night on my way home from getting my roots done I managed to take a picture of the gorgeous sunset.

Here's me driving. My hair appears more red than it really is. Must be the flash.


Yes, I'm a dork

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My cousin Christoper Columbus


Paula's oral presentation last Monday was on her Italian ancestors. More specifically her ancestors from the city of Genoa, Italy, and when and why they came to America.

Well, yesterday she proudly learned that Christoper Columbus (the reason they didn't have school on Monday) grew up in Genoa! She was extremely impressed. As am I! Maybe we're cousins. It could happen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Moo

In my neighborhood we have a cows, turkeys, skunks, snakes, lizards and other creatures. Normally the cows stay up on top of the hills but sometimes they venture lower. Today on the way to school there were 2 cows walking close to us so I stopped to take their picture. You can't see the fence but there is on that keeps them off the road. My girls get a kick out of seeing them so close.

Normally there are turkeys on that lower section but the past week or so they've been elsewhere.

Monday, October 13, 2008

October Traditions

Ever since Paula was almost 2 years old we've gone to a local pumpkin farm. They're very popular with hay rides, corn maze, and a hay mountain to climb. Sadly, not sure why, but this year they scaled down to just a tiny area. We visited it yesterday where we found 2 pumpkins and took this years pictures. The ones of Shawna from previous years I'm hoping are on our computer at home, but I don't have them on this one.

Here is Paula around 18 months old. I was pregnant with Shawna. 2002


October 2003 - Paula didn't want to stand here and she's slouching down a bit




October 2003 at Perry Farms (Shawna is in the backpack carrier)



October 2003 on our front porch of our old house


Fast forward a few years and Paula's has bypassed 4 feet.


Shawna is at the 4 ft mark for 2008

My mom is here visiting so I'm throwing this picture in that I took last night. They just love their Grandma.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Life changing moments

In 1973 I was a 5 year old kindergartner. My family and I were driving back from a restaurant for dinner. My 1 year old brother was in the front seat of our blue Buick sedan in his car seat. The front seat is where they put kids back then so you could be closer to your child. The fact we even HAD a car seat in 1973 is probably a shocker to many. My mom and I were in the back seat while my dad was driving.

The road we were on was an expressway. Lawrence Expressway to be exact. It was normally very busy but for some reason that night I remember there weren't a whole lot of cars. We were in the far right lane, going to turn right at the next road. I remember it being light out, maybe 6pm. I was in school at the time so it was during the school year, not summer.

A man stepped out into our lane from the bushes on the side of the road. My dad naturally slowed down so as not to hit this man. The man lifted his arm and pointed a gun at us. A handgun. A black handgun. It took a couple beats before we realized what he had pointing at us. By the time we realized it was a gun we were pretty close to him. My mom told my dad to back up which he began to do, but the man said "don't back up or I'll shoot". My mom and I ducked into the back seat. Alan, my brother, was right in his line of sight. My dad stopped. The man said "get out of the car". My father, mother and I got out. My mother went to the front seat to get Alan out but her nerves and the buckles wouldn't cooperate and she was having a difficult time getting him out. The man said "you have 1 minute to get him out or I'm taking him with me". She got him out.

Now we're standing in Lawrence Expressway lined up facing the man with the handgun. I noticed his hand was bleeding. His thumb was hanging. It wasn't completely attached to his hand. The man said "give me your money". My mom tossed him my dads wallet & made my dad give him his watch too. My mom would tell me later how scared she was he'd take my brother or I, so she offered everything she could.

I whispered "what are you going to do to us". No one heard me.

I remember seeing a green pick-up truck driving in the other direction on Lawrence Expressway. I remember seeing their faces looking at us as we stood in the street with this man pointing a gun at us. I don't remember any other cars on the road, even though I'm sure there were.

The man took my dads wallet, watch and keys and drove off in our car.

I'd been quiet as a mouse during the entire episode, but once he left I was frantic and freaking out. I began bawling hysterically. My parents and I began walking towards the intersection when the green pick-up came up next to us. They had seen what happened and made a U-turn at the closest intersection. We loaded up into the back of their truck. They asked where did we want to go? We didn't have house keys. They were on the key chain with the car keys. At the time we only had the 1 car. My dad, or maybe my mom, suggested they take us to our old house we owned and rented out to a nice family.

I remember when they called the police. I remember the nice lady of the house offering me a red type of candy but I was too upset to accept it. I remember 2 policemen came asking questions. I remember spending time in their backyard while all this was happening.

Someone brought us home. I can't recall if it was the family in the green truck but I think it was. I want to say it was. My bedroom was in the front of our house and thankfully the window was cracked. My job was to climb through the window and unlock the front door. I did.

Days later we got our Buick back. It had blood all over the front seat from his hanging thumb. Apparently his gun was jammed and he sliced his thumb open trying to get it to function. The gun did not work.

The Mercury News would report later that he was a 17 year old runaway from Los Angeles who wanted to kill his girlfriend in Gilroy. The cops caught him before he succeeded. They misspelled our last name in the article.

For sharing that week I brought the news article to school and told the story.

Some time later my mom and I were driving to a store. We were in a left turning lane and our Buick died. I was in the back seat. I began to panic, crying and basically freaked out. I remember my mom trying to calm me but I would have none of it. We walked across to the gas station and called my dad. For many years whenever our cars would blow a water hose, the radiator would overheat or we'd get a flat tire, I'd get extremely upset.

To this day I have a fear of being in a broken down car, stranded.

Life changing moments.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Aye Matey

I don't have anything interesting to report.


We're going to be hopefully renting the studio above our garage for some extra cash. It's only about 200 square feet, but for a single person it's okay. It's like living in a bedroom. It has a kitchenette, full bathroom and lots of windows. It even has a mirrored closet. Key for women. Right now we use it for my parents who come to visit. It's also the "sick room". When one of my kids are sick they sleep in there and I'll sleep in the other bed next to them. I'll miss that. I need my kids close to me when they're sick.


The playroom is now the guest room. I moved out a bunch of unused toys. The used toys and play kitchen are in Shawna's room . Two twin beds can just barely fit in the small guest room, but they fit. And since we have a trundle bed, the 2nd bed will be tucked underneath it most of the time. Todd will paint the studio and hopefully we can find a nice female to live there. With two daughters there is no way we're renting to a male. I realize I can't state that in my ad. Which is annoying by the way.


Tonight is another meeting at school about getting on the grass. I can't recall if I've talked about this or not in my blog, but we have softball fields behind the school that the students don't get to use during school. Parents are trying to change that and I'm on the committee for it. You'd think it would be an easy fix, but nope. Since my kids school is on a busy street where idiot bank robbers like to rob banks on that busy street, the school has to go into lock down while the cops try to locate the idiot bank robber. Once a robber ran thru the school on his way to escape. Nothing bad happened thankfully. But, there has to be a complete safety drill put into place in the case of the children being on the fields, which are located a good distance from the main school. You know, when I was a kid all we worried about were earthquake drills. I can't explain how bad I feel that my kid has to practice lock down drills.


Lastly, Paula gave an oral report today on her ancestors from Italy. Parents were invited to attend so I went to see her. She did a really good job. She was nervous but she spoke clearly, gave all the correct information, and even answered questions well from her classmates. I'm so proud of her.


Picture of the day:

Todd took down all the Halloween stuff to decorate the house. He pulled out his pirate costume and apparently put it on. Paula told him he needs to grow out his beard so he can braid it. He asked me if I could find him some extensions. haha


For those of you who are curious, he and I are getting along well. Pretty much it's been status quo. We're civil, work together and have the kids best interest right now. However, he was very rude at a friends house this past Saturday and I busted him for it. He apologized but he's still an ass. He totally interrupted my story and when I said "wait" he said "No YOU Wait" and talked on. Fucker.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

He's a Marine!

You know how you have all these hopes and dreams for your kids when they're babies? "I hope he'll be a lawyer, a doctor, the president!"

I'm not sure how many parents ever dream their kids will join the military, especially since we're at war, but my guess is most parents only pick military when they see all hope of anything else from their problem child.

My friend and neighbor Susanne has an 18 year old son named Keenan. OH, the dreams she had for him. She has pictures of him all over her house from all ages. She always has. He wasn't very athletic but he played baseball like the other kids. He was okay academically but rarely applied himself. He's always been cute. Girls were always after him. He's always had friends.
But, as the years went on he had more and more problems staying in school, keeping a job, paying his bills, avoiding tickets. He even moved out a couple times to live with friends because Susanne just couldn't take him anymore and the feeling was mutual.

His dad, who is now remarried, was barely ever in the picture, he himself is a financial and commitment mess. The dad, when around, was the FUN parent. You know how that works. Susanne is the disciplinarian since Keenan lived with her full-time, and the dad is the fun parent who only saw him on occasional weekends.

Before school ended last year Keenan was talking to us about what he might do with his life. For a long time he planned to be a mechanic. I mentioned how the mechanics I know are always filthy, their hands are thrashed from grease, they don't love what they do. His girlfriend's dad is a mechanic and she said they don't make very much money. I mentioned being a cop. "I hate cops, I'll NEVER be a cop". (he's been in some trouble...can you tell?). Okay, what about go to air conditioning school? I have a cousin who did that and he makes more money than his sister who has an MBA in Park Recreation. (is that surprising? probably not)
After our conversation I was telling Dina, Susanne's partner, how the best thing for him to do would be to go into the military. She agreed but neither of us mentioned that to Keenan at that time.

Well, not too long after that day Keenan talked to a Marines recruit and decided to join the marines. The obstacles were: 1. Keenan was only 17 so his parents would have to sign him over. 2. He needed to complete high school and get a diploma. 3. He needed to pass the physical.
Now, I never realized that once you've signed up, the recruit is responsible for making sure you do what you have to so you make it to boot camp. Susanne contacted the recruit many times for help with getting Keenan in school. The recruit was like having a new parent around because Keenan had to listen to him. But, believe it or not, he actually failed high school because he purposely stopped going at the end of the year and had to take classes in the summer to get his diploma.

Through the many weeks of boot camp Keenan would write letters saying how hard it is, how many guys had already quit, how he doesn't know if he'll make it to the end. At the end of each letter he'd write I'M GOING TO BE A MARINE. By the end of camp his letters were more positive and he was enjoying it more. Still, it was hella tough. Last week they had Crucible, which is the Marines final physical and mental test that lasts 48 hours. He passed!

Susanne and Dina left today for his graduation. I'm on dog/cat duty again for them. As of now he's not going into combat. Instead he's being trained for a vocation. S&D don't know which one yet.

On Oct 11th they're throwing him a huge party at their house to celebrate his graduation. He's only home for 10 days before he goes to a different fort to learn his vocation. Susanne is so VERY proud of her son. I'm really happy for Susanne. She stressed so much about him for years. She felt like a total failure as a parent. She'd say "I only had 1 child and I screwed him up". Now he's the responsibility of our US government who has already made a soldier out of him. Oh the possibilities!!!

This is him below at a San Diego Padres game recently. 2nd from the right. Ain't he cute?!