Monday, November 3, 2008

OK...I'll Admit It...I Hate The Glade Lady

I am a self-confessed television junkie. I like my daytime talk shows, my soaps and my prime time shows. And being a self-confessed television junkie, I am bombarded with commercials.

There are commercials for absolutely everything nowadays....from sexual dysfunction medication to lotions, food and cell phone service providers. Some commercials I enjoy, some I simply tolerate or ignore and still others.....I hate. Which brings me to the "Glade Lady".

I have nothing whatsoever against Glade products. As a matter of fact, the scented oil candles are to die for and I use them a great deal in my home. They envelop my home in the most delicious scents and really work to freshen things up, or cover wet dog smell, kid feet or hubby's latest kitchen "experiment." But I'm sorry, I hate the "Glade Lady."

"Oh, that smells incredible. It's one of those Glade candles." Says her soccer mom visitor.

"No, it's French....from France."


Phone call in the bathtub. The Glade Lady proclaims, "Oh, I'm the spa."


Doing Yoga, the Glade Lady touts, "It's a boutiquey scent I picked up at a boutique. It helps me plug into my Karma."


Why, oh why must she carry on like that? Is it important to be a faker, liar and poser? Is it soooo important to keep up with the Joneses that you need to make them think you're something that you're not? C'mon advertising executives, did you really think people would identify with her? And if so, it's scary to think that the demographic of posers out there is so large that they'd choose to develop advertising like this.

Well, if you come to my house, I'm going to tell you the truth.

Wanna know what that scent is? Glade them on sale at Meijer and I had a coupon! The chicken is delicious? Wow, thanks! I put it on the baking sheet all by myself, baked it for 30 minutes and viola! You like my outfit? Thanks so much! Target clearance rack....$3.00 for the shirt $6.00 for the jeans!

Maybe I'm just a simple gal to whom appearances don't matter. I'm not impressed by "boutiquey" fragrances, someone's spa trip or the price of the outfit. I like the person inside...the one who laughs at sitcoms and cries during chick flicks. I like people who have dogs that, well frankly, smell like dogs once in a while. I like people who'll fix dinner from a box occasionally, who sit on the porch and talk to neighbors and who don't need to run off to the spa for each little blemish, knotted muscle or chipped finger nail.

So...come as you are, I like you that way.....oh, and bring the Glade dogs have been playing in the rain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When Domestic Violence Comes Home

My daughter and my dad...10-27-2007

He told her that he had changed. He showed her his AA tokens, got on his knees and begged for her forgiveness. It had been several years since my daughter and "RJ" were together so she forgave him and they began dating again. This was a mistake she'd regret.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful. We had a masquerade ball theme, since it was so close to Halloween, and the guests came in costumes....all except for my dad, who wore his Marines Dress Blues. He looked amazing, but paled in comparison to the radiant and happy bride. My little girl.

It only took a couple of months before RJ had quit his job. He slept in every day, never lifted a finger around the house and depended 100% on my daughter to pay the bills, the brand new mortgage and buy food for them and my daughter's dogs.

RJ then started to become possessive and paranoid, watching over my daughter's shoulder every moment, reading her emails, listening to her phone calls. He began yelling at her constantly, starting fights and verbally abusing her. Soon things escalated into RJ breaking furniture, throwing things around and beating the dogs. She started planning her escape.

Her escape plan was yet to be finished, when the electricity at their home was turned off. She was hurriedly preparing her aquarium and fish to be moved (so the fish wouldn't die), when RJ started yet another fight. In his rage, he kicked a box containing aquarium supplies and things scattered over the living room food, rocks and more. My daughter screamed and RJ, "Why do you have to do this? Why are you always breaking my things? You have destroyed nearly everything I own!"

She walked toward the door, fully intending to go to the neighbors and call the police.....she wasn't fast enough....a physical fight ensued and she ended up bruised and shaken. She quietly followed through with moving her aquarium, allowed RJ to drop her off at a friends and then called home for help. My husband and I picked her up, took her home and grabbed her dogs and a couple of small boxes of her belongings....she left everything else behind.

One would think the story ends there....or that my daughter went back to She moved home and never looked back. RJ, on the other hand, couldn't let it go.

He began stalking her, following her and making online threats against her. Though we got protective orders for here, her work and family and friend's homes, he still refused to stop....and most of the time, the police wouldn't do anything unless they saw him, or there was proof. We began running a camcorder at home and my daughter started carrying a digital camera and a baseball bat. He continued to follow her to work, drive by friends homes and sit on side streets for days, watching her, waiting to attack.....and he finally did...on August 2nd 2008, he tried to kill my daughter.

She was leaving a friend's home and noticed a car sitting on a darkened side street.....she just KNEW what was about to happen. She pulled behind a business (a common cut-through for motorists), stepped out of her opened car door and waited with her digital camera in hand. As soon as RJ rounded the corner in his car, she snapped a photograph. When he realized what happened, he floored the gas and raced toward her. She rolled into her car just as he wedged his car in her, still open, driver side door. She leaned out and took another photograph.

She then hit her accelerator, did a u-turn around an ATM machine in the adjoining parking lot, and hurried back toward her best friend's home. RJ caught up to her and *SLAM*, hit her from behind. *SLAM*, he hits her again. She sped up, finally coming to a stop in her friend's driveway. She was already on the phone with the police.

They arrested him within 10 minutes of the incident, but sadly, only got him for "Violation of Privacy".......there is some stupid law in Indiana stating that the car was "marital property" and he could do to it what he wished. He was only in jail for mere days....his family bailed him out.....and he continued his stalking and mind games.
We had to stay on the police and prosecuter's office constantly to make sure something....anything was being done to keep this man away from my daughter. We were lucky we convinced them to even investigate the case further!

The final straw came as a telephoned death threat.....a terrible message...left on my daughter's cell phone. It was a song that chimed, "Bitch you know I love you, but now you gotta die" and it repeated over and over. The police weren't impressed.....and in the early days into the stalking investigation....he was arrested and held without bond during a bond agreement check. He was drunk, using drugs and in possession of the cd containing the song with the death threat.

That was two months ago.....and RJ still sits in jail. His rich dad didn't bail him out, even after bond had been set at $5,000. Tomorrow is the big day......court....and he will be released under a plea agreement.

With the stalking laws, the way they are written, it is nearly impossible to get a conviction...too many rules and regulations have to be met. Our deputy prosecutor is heartsick as he wanted nothing more than to prosecute RJ to the fullest extent of the law. The best he could do is roll the dice and risk him walking away, time served and no further recourse or write a plea agreement to help protect my daughter.

Time served. Mandatory drug and alcohol counseling and testing. Mandatory anger management and domestic violence classes. Mandatory psychiatric evaluation and counseling. 3 full years probation. A Supreme Court no contact order for my daughter for 3 full years. If he doesn't do classes....even misses one...mandatory prison term. If he so much as calls my daughter and hangs up...mandatory prison time.

But will this be enough?

Will he stop?

Or will his first and only contact with my daughter be the only one it will take?

I'm afraid for her, but there is little I can do. I can continue to follow her, so she's never out of my view. I can go with her everywhere. I can run the video camera.....for 3 years....maybe longer. Who knows.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Daughter Is A Build-A-Bear Junkie

I had seen the Build-A-Bear Workshop commercials. They seemed far too emotional to me. I thought, "Geesh, it's a stuffed animal, not a life changing event!"

All of my daughter's friends seemed to have one of these do-it- yourself furry friends and she wanted one too. I checked their website and since the prices weren't too bad, I caved in to taking her to spend her birthday haul on a Build-A-Bear.

The day I took her, I was pleasantly surprised at how touching of a process it was....REALLY! She got to choose her animal and then a heart to get tucked inside. She made a wish on the heart, held it to her ear (so they would always share secrets), kissed it and so on. They stuffed the fluffy critter, sewed it up and then my daughter got to "bathe" her new friend. She chose clothing and dressed it, then we registered her new friend, Amy the Frog, on their computer. When we checked out, they presented my daughter with a birth certificate and tucked Amy the Frog into a really nice, cardboard carrier with windows and a beautiful ribbon securing the carrying handle.

Amy went everywhere with my daughter and when she couldn't take Amy with her, "grandma" got to babysit. Amy is a part of the family now, with her three outfits and pink Sketchers shoes with rhinestone heart shoelace decorations.(Amy's shoes are nicer than mine, by the way) But then suddenly, my daughter started jonesing for another friend.

She started digging through the couch cushions for change, checking all of her dress-up purses and the junk drawers in the kitchen for any stray cent she could find. She offered to do anything for a buck or two.She even begged Santa for a gift card to Build-A-Bear Wrokshop. Santa was compliant. He stuffed one into her stocking and a freind of ours got her one as well. By the day after Christmas, she was shaking and jittery....she had to go and build a new freind....and she had to NOW!!!

This time dad took her and she came home with Koko the Sheltie. Koko was dressed in red shorts and top with doggy print, red panties and dalmation slippers on all four fuzzy feet. My daughter even purchased a frog embellished outfit for Amy the frog while she was there.

The craving hit her again a few weeks later and she started mining for change, begging for dollars and planning her next Build-A-Bear Workshop visit. She knew she had accumulated a $10 gift card from her punch card (yep, they give punch cards!) but she knew it cost a bit more than that for the bear she had her eye on......a soft white teddy covered in pink and red hearts, a "special edition" for Valentine's Day. She was desperate. She needed another fix. She began asking how long till she could earn the money and when she could go next.

"Can I just go and look? Can I just go and buy an outfit? No,on second thought, I NEED this bear mom, forget the outfits, I just need the bear, I really do."

Finally she got so desperate to have the limited edition Valentine bear that, after being missing for an hour, she came bounding down the hallway and breathlessly announced, "I cleaned my room!"

Her father and I checked out her claim and yes, she had cleaned her room. It was absolutely spotless.....nothing under the bed, nothing shoved in the closet, no clothes in the trash can or toybox! Everything was neat and tidy. With her eyes spinning and glazed over she asked, "Now can I have a Build-A-Bear?"

Considering our daughter had just brought home a straight "A" report card the day before, her father and I agreed to take her to Build-A-Bear Workshop again, but it would have to wait till morning. Do you want to know how creepy it is to wake up at dawn on a Sunday morning to see your 8 year old sitting on the couch, fully dressed, hair brushed, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed and purse thrown over her shoulder?! It was frightening. She even seemed to be trembling a bit.

Through girnning lips, She began babbling like a lunatic, "I'll wait for you to get your coffee before we go. I would make it for you but I'm not sure how many scoops go in. If you want me to I can lay out your coat. If I could, I'd warm up the car. I'm too little too, right? He, he, he. Why don't you do that now? Nobody will see you in your jammies. Okay? Okay? This is going to be so much fun. I hope there's not a big line....I hate it when there's a line. Do you want me to get your jeans out of the dryer for you? How about a shirt? Here's my hairbrush if you want to use it."

We are now the proud family of Anastasia the Valentine's Bear dressed in her glittery pink t-shirt and skort set and black velvet Mary Janes. She's cute alright, but now I wonder how long it will be before my daughter starts jonesing for her next Build-A-Bear fix. This habit can be quite expensive and these furry creatures are accumulating a better wardrobe than I have!

I realize I could play this to my advantage. Heck,I could have my darling daughter doing laundry, cleaning out closets and picking up doggy presents in the back yard if I played my cards right. She'd probably do just about anything for a new cuddly friend. But I know that every child needs an incintive for good behavior, grades and a clean bedroom. Some children want cash, others want candy or surprises. My daughter's incintive just happens to have fur, a special heart and a killer wardrobe.

*Since I wrote this story for Club Mom, my daughter has accumulated SEVERAL more Build-A-Bear friends including Edward the bear, Puddin' the dog and Manhattan (who came from the New York city Workshop) among others. As of this update, there is no 12 step program for Build-A-Bear addiction, so please, stuff with caution!

A Hearty, Cool Weather Recipe On The Cheap!

Now that the leaves are colorful and crisp and there's a chill in the air, it's the perfect time to start thinking about those cool weather meals. You know the that is hearty, easy to make and that warms more than the stomach.

My kids and husband have their cool weather favorites....chili, chicken and dumplings and finally, potato soup.

My potato soup recipe has been handed down through my family, though it's nothing special, it's simple, delicious and so incredibly cheap! I can feed my family of 5, with leftovers, for about $6....yes, six bucks!! Even my picky eater, who could live on mashed potatoes, never turns her nose up at my potato soup.

Here's my recipe:

5 lb. bag of potatoes
1 large onion
1 can evaporated milk
1 stick butter or margerine

Peel and cube potatoes as if you're making homemade mashed potatoes. Dice onions. Rinse all in a colander and place in a stew pot. Cover potatoes and onions with water (about 3 inches above) and bring to boil. Once potatoes are soft enough to be pierced by a fork, turn heat down to low and add evapoated milk and butter (do not drain the water). Stir, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat until heated thoroughly. (You can also add potato flakes to thicken if you like a thicker broth)

Serve as a hearty vegetarian meal or let your family customize their soup. My family loves adding shredded cheese, crispy bacon, ham or turkey chunks to their soup. You can also make your soup lighter by using skim milk rather than canned, evaporated milk or make it more healthy by adding carrots or celery. Either way, this is an inexpensive meal you can feed a big family with and even customize to make your own.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Prayed My Son Would Die

*Previously published by Edwina Caito on Club Mom

The very moment Dennis was born, he was quickly whisked away to a waiting isolette. A fury of activity surrounded his tiny body. I watched as doctors and nurses ran about the delivery room, speaking urgently to one another. After several minutes, my son was swaddled in a soft, blue blanket and placed into my arms.

I was shocked at his appearance and I felt a pang of guilt for reacting that way. Although he seemed normal in every way, his face was divided in half by a dark purple birthmark. The pediatrician told me it would never fade and even worse, that there was the possibility Dennis could have a rare condition that caused seizures, glaucoma, mental retardation and even death.


Mental Retardation.


The words swam in my head over and over again.

Surely something like that couldn't happen to me. Things like that happened to other people. I did as the doctor said. I took my son home and I waited.

Six weeks had gone by and Dennis was doing well. I sat in the rocking chair nursing him when he suddenly pulled away from my breast. I looked down, my heart sank into my stomach and I froze in terror. My baby's mouth hung open as milk dribbled from his blue lips. His eyes were wide and staring, but unseeing. His tiny little fist was drawn so tight, his knuckles where white. His fist was twitching rhythmically.

Dennis was placed on anticonvulsant medication immediately and he was diagnosed with the same rare illness the pediatrician had warned me about, Sturge-Weber Syndrome. Very little was known about the disease so the doctors had few answers and even less consolation to offer me. The following days turned to weeks and the weeks turned into months. Nothing could stop the seizures that were ravaging my son's tiny, helpless body. I was frightened for him. I felt helpless. I couldn't stop what was happening to him. I prayed for healing. I prayed for the illness to go away. I begged God to let me take the illness. I prayed for a miracle, but no miracle came.

The first evening the paramedics came is still a surreal blur. Dennis lay on the dining room floor, motionless and blue. The medic had to breathe for Dennis while he cradled his limp body in his arms and rushed him to the back of the waiting ambulance. That night, I found myself in the hospital chapel on my knees. I looked around the dim, deserted room. I watched the candlelight cast eerie shadows along the walls. I had never felt more alone and isolated in my life. With tears streaming down my face and a heart exploding with pain, I screamed to the Heavens, "Please make it stop! Just take him! Don't allow my baby to suffer another minute, Lord, please just take him home."

There is a Garth Brooks song called "Unanswered Prayers" in which Garth croons the words,"Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." No truer words could ever have been spoken. It took me many months find my way to that conclusion. I had to learn that my son was here for a very special reason and that praying for strength was the only thing I could do. I had to accept. I had to cope. I had no go on. My son needed me.

More than twenty years have passed since I murmured those desperate prayers. Dennis has been through many horrific ordeals since then - a stroke, more seizures, eight eye surgeries, brain surgery and more. Yet with every traumatic ordeal, he has gotten stronger and more determined to live. And throughout it all, he still manages to smile, laugh and enjoy every moment of life. My son has touched many hearts in his lifetime, including mine. He has lead me on paths I would never have chosen to travel on my own. Along those paths, I grew. I am a different person now and it is all because of my son.

I now look back to the early days of Dennis' life and see that every desperate plea and prayer were a part of my path to accepting my son's illness. Every step - anger, helplessness and hopelessness - was a step toward the strength I needed to guide my son through life. I no longer feel guilty about those pleas to God to take my son, as they were part of my coping process. And, most importantly, I do realize that some of God's greatest gifts are indeed, unanswered prayers.

*Dennis is now 22 years old, still living at home and doing well on his medications. Best of all, he's still a happy, fun-loving young man with a zest for life that is unsurpassed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's A Halloween Nightmare

Although my 10 year old already has her Halloween costume, an Indian Princess, we decided to take a peek through the costume selection at Meijer the other night.

I rummaged through the rack and saw the most interesting pink, leopard print skirt with a fuzzy cat tail attacked. I pulled it off the rack, held the costume at arms length and looked at the form fitting belly top, trimmed in pink marabou. How cute! How sexy! And then I realized............... was a costume for a 6 year old girl!!!!!!!!!!

I immediately hung the costume up and began digging frantically through the other costumes. I found a sexy witch with an obscenely short skirt and sewn-on bustier that laced in the back. The Little Red Riding Hood costume looked like something out of a Fredricks Of Hollywood shop. There was a fire red, form fitting, cat suit that included a deeply scooped neck, marabou trim and devils horns. And don't get me started on the Dorothy costume.....the Wizard would take her glittery ruby slippers and send her back out to the flying monkeys.

I felt a little dizzy looking at the overly sexy and revealing costume selection for little girls and toddlers and I couldn't help but wonder if parents are really buying these for their children. C'mon, are we expecting them to bring back more than just candy on Halloween night? Dress them little tiny street walkers and you never know!

Now I'm not an old fashion gal, for the most part. I wear low rise jeans, listen to J-Pop and alternative rock and my daughters have deemed me as "cool"...........but if this trend is something that the mainstream, I say braid my hair and call me Laura Ingalls! I refuse to allow my daughter dress in such a lewd and revealing way, even if it's just for fun and just for one night.

What happened to the days of white bed sheets over the head, prima ballerinas and floor length princess gowns? Where are the evil, ugly witches, dressed in long, black gowns with warts and green noses? Has Hannah Montana, High School Musical and television turned our children into wanna-be tarts, vixens and tiny Paris Hiltons? Or are the costume companies just putting the stuff out there and hoping that little Cindy will throw enough of a temper fit in the store that mom and dad will cave and let her run the neighborhood Halloween night with a bare midriff, begging for treats or "tricks"?

All I know is....I'm not buying it and my daughter certainly isn't wearing it.