2012/12/16

Please Stand By

Da Goddess @ 19:22

Running massive backup on the computer. I’m terrified the computer is dying.

Hoping one of my tech-y friends can tell me what’s wrong and it’s an easy (not to mention cheap) fix.

Fingers crossed.

Last Christmas

Da Goddess @ 02:50

Oh, how I love Human Nature — even during their early boy band phase. Their harmonies give me life. Yeah, I said that.

Christmas Is All Around

Da Goddess @ 01:11

2012/12/15

We Three Kings

Da Goddess @ 20:39

More beautiful work from The Piano Guys.

Chocolate Crackled Cookies

Da Goddess @ 04:00

Made these yesterday with my mom and they are fantastic! Last year, LD and my mom made them and even Mr Picky loved them. If kids don’t know about the ancho chile powder they’ll never know it’s there.

One suggestion: after the cookies have cooled, dust with powdered sugar. The powdered sugar helps keep the chocolate from being overwhelming (yes, I said the chocolate was overwhelming). Also, keep the cookie dough balls small because, well…same reason and you can share with many more people if you have more of them on hand.

Decadent chocolate chunk cookies with a hint of smoky heat from the Ancho Chile Pepper will please the most refined palates.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Makes 3 1/2 dozen or 21 (2 cookie) servings.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes per batch (you may need to bake a minute or so longer to get the cookies to flatten)

12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided

3/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Chile Pepper, Ancho

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate as directed on package. Set aside. Coarsely chop remaining 4 ounces chocolate. Mix flour, roasted cinnamon, ancho chile pepper, baking powder and salt in small bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add melted chocolate; beat until well blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Stir in chopped chocolate. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons or medium cookie scoop 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

3. Bake about 10 minutes or just until cookies are set and slightly cracked on top. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to wire rack; cool completely.

The Next Christmas Music Video

Da Goddess @ 02:51

Betcha never thought you’d hear a version of “We Three Kings” like that, huh?

2012/12/14

What’s Wrong With This World?

Da Goddess @ 22:02

Eleven days before Christmas and some disturbed young man takes out his anger and frustration on the innocent. It makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with this world. Well, I have a few ideas…including the idea that too few parents pay attention to their children anymore. They schedule their kids’ lives to the nth degree with activities that do little more than keep the kids busy. No child needs soccer, piano lessons, language lessons, private tutoring, volleyball, softball, art classes, play dates, and 43 other things going on every week. What they need is time with family. They need to know they matter; that money isn’t everything; that they are more than their last report card or sports trophy. They don’t need to live in a McMansion; they need to live in a home with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or others who love them and interact with them on a personal level.

Instead of 19 kids and counting, how about 1 or 2 kids who count? Pay attention to your kids. Give them your time and attention. If they’re toddlers, it’s a great time to start. If they’re older than that…it’s not too late! Understand that these people you’ve brought into the world are important and have feelings…actually listen when they speak and quit trying to shush them all the time. If they learn they can’t talk to you about the unimportant things, they will never ever come to you about the big important stuff.

Quit chasing the almighty dollar, folks, and chase a stronger family. All the money in the world cannot replace the love and attention of an actively engaged parent/child relationship.

Our children are not little adults. They need time to play and time to grow. They need to learn that not everything they do is “special”. They need to learn to make mistakes and learn from them. They need a few scrapes and bruises to learn from those, too. They need to understand the value of chores, the value of play, and the value of…well, being valued. Show them you care, but don’t condescend and make them believe they are without flaws. They need to understand that they are lovable even if they mess up and they need to accept responsibility when they do. They need to know there are consequences for their bad behavior and rewards for good behavior. Boundaries are good things — it gives children room to explore within safe parameters. It also helps, in conjunction with everything else, kids learn that stepping outside the boundaries isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that they should do so with the understanding of what may happen when they do so.

How many times do we hear from the families of those who commit such atrocities that they knew their child was unhappy or that something wasn’t right (or worse, they didn’t notice anything wrong) and yet nothing was done to help the kid? In the instances where they didn’t notice anything wrong, why not? What else was so important in their lives that they didn’t see their child was troubled?

Spending time with your kids and being truly engaged in their lives are the greatest gifts you can give them. They don’t need a brand new car on their 16th birthday. They don’t need 500 channels on the TV. They don’t need designer clothes. They don’t need a week packed with busy work. They need your time, your love, and your attention. They need to know they’re more important than vacations and parties and “things”.

A little more patience and time and we’ll see fewer tragedies like the one today.

That’s the end of my rant. I’m going back to praying for the families who lost loved ones today. I’m praying the community, especially the children, can begin to heal. I pray we never have to hear another story like this one.

Carol of the Bells

Da Goddess @ 03:10

I wanted something wonderful to post on my sister’s birthday and this fits the bill nicely.

2012/12/13

Christmas Gifts for Her

Da Goddess @ 13:54

So, I’m pretty sure at least one of you has noticed the addition of a couple ads on my sidebar. The one for ShareASale is a great resource if you want to include ads on your site. Click through and get started!

However, it’s the one for CityChicOnline that I want to tell you about right now. CityChic is an Australian clothing company that’s recently started doing business here in the States. They offer beautiful clothing for women, sizes 14-up. My wish list for their clothes is a mile long.

Right now, CityChicOnline is running a deal for the Holidays: hundreds of items reduced to $30 or under AND free shipping! So for all of you readers who have lovely ladies with fuller figures, get on this! Beautiful clothes from a company that makes clothes to fit real curves on real women!

From the Deep Waters of Friendship & Trust: Old Spice Manta Claus

Da Goddess @ 02:50

Yes, this counts as a Christmas “carol” today.

2012/12/12

Face Time

Da Goddess @ 23:00

I guess it pays to sit in someone’s office and cry for 45 minutes.

Monday, following my tearful doctor’s appointment, I walked over to the attorney’s office. He happened to be there as I was talking with one of his assistants, noticed I was in tears, and asked me to hang around until he was finished with his client so he could talk with me. I did. And all that bullshit I was hearing for the past month of “oh, he’s working on that for you” became obvious that no one had worked on it at all. However, since I was there, sobbing like a child who’d had his lollipop stolen, he got on the phone and started working on things right away.

Today, I got a call. Not from an assistant, but from the attorney himself. Things are happening. Granted, I’m still likely a month away from medications, but at least something‘s happening.

I go through this every couple of years with the insurance company — them denying some part of my treatment and throwing my whole pain management routine off. It’s so difficult to explain what this does to me. Let me try.

Every single day of my life is spent trying to minimize the amount of pain I have. Normally, I have medication I can take at the end of the day to help keep it to a dull roar. I also normally have medication on hand if I have breakthrough pain that isn’t kept at a manageable level with Tylenol. This is all day, everyday. I don’t get a break on weekends or holidays. Everything I do revolves around keeping my pain at a livable level. When things are relatively well-controlled, I get to lead what passes as a normal life. I can do things. I try hard not to OVERDO things because that sets a whole cascade of trouble in motion. Without medication, my day is spent trying to keep a thousand angry bees in a bag with nothing more than my bare hands and sheer will. Or at least that’s what it feels like. Except that it hurts more than bee stings. And once I’ve maxed out on Tylenol for the day, I got nothing else in my arsenal to fight the pain further. If Tylenol doesn’t do much for me when I’m on all my other meds, you can pretty much guess how well it works for me when I don’t have other meds on board. Yet it’s the only option I have at this point. I can’t take anything in the ibuprofen or similar NSAID family. I can’t do homeopathic. And I don’t do illegal drugs.

One of the medications I’ve been on for the past year and a half or so is Cymbalta. It’s an anti-depressant that’s been approved for use in chronic musculoskeletal and neuromuscular pain. It was a bitch to get used to. I was sick for a full three months plus when I first started taking it. The only reason I pushed through and kept taking it was because it absolutely made a difference in my pain level. Plus, I was losing weight. Yeah, it wasn’t pleasant, but it was, in my mind, worth it. Anything that decreases the level of pain I was feeling was worth it.

With drugs like Cymbalta, you’re not meant to suddenly stop taking them. You’re meant to taper off if you need to stop for any reason. Why? Because even with tapering off slowly, “withdrawal symptoms and signs can occur on the discontinuation of such medications as clearance of drug can occur at a rate faster than the brain can readjust to the absence of medication”. In other words, no matter how slowly you taper off, you can still have severe withdrawal symptoms. When you stop the medication abruptly, you’re shocking your system even more. There’s no way to counter the affects. SSRI (and SNRI) discontinuation syndrome is kind of a big deal.

“Common responses to dose reduction or cessation include dizziness, electric shock-like sensations, sweating, nausea, insomnia, tremor, confusion, nightmares, and vertigo.” Can you say check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, and check? I’ve experienced every listed symptom and more. Nobody tells you about these things when you start taking the medications, they only tell you NOT TO DISCONTINUE THE MEDICATION ABRUPTLY. In severe cases, the body cannot handle the withdrawal and shuts down completely. For me, it’s been a struggle to deal with the pain and then, to top it off, I get this shit. The depression and anxiety (mind you, I was not depressed…I was placed on the medication to help manage pain) have set in since I’ve been off the meds have been overwhelming. Sitting in the doctor’s office and the attorney’s office crying are the least of my problems, but it’s a big enough problem on its own.

I don’t feel strong enough in any way, shape, or form to deal with this on my own. Yet, I have no choice. I have to power through somehow. But when you combine the physical pain with the depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep, it’s a no-win situation for me. The job I was supposed to do last week? Between what I’ve been going through and the guy who wanted me to shoot changing the compensation on me, I didn’t do it. I had to make a serious judgment call and that was to not go. I couldn’t even consider carrying around my gear and standing for hours without a break while I was already hurting because — you guessed it — I had no way to combat worse pain. No amount of money would have been worth it. Okay, maybe a couple grand would have been worth it because I could have paid for the meds on my own (they’re not inexpensive; the Cymbalta alone is a few hundred bucks each month). But that’s not what was offered to me and I couldn’t afford to risk exacerbated my back.

This puts me in a horrible position: I needed the job to have a little bit of money so I could buy Christmas gifts (or even supplies to make gifts) and I needed to pay the two bills I have each month. This does not include payments on a loan from a friend (who has been magnificent about all this). I can’t pursue jobs of any sort as long as I feel like this and not being able to pursue work means I can’t afford to pay for the meds out of pocket either. So I end up sitting here feeling like a fucking loser who can’t do anything. Guess what happens then? Oh yeah, the depression and the anxiety worsen.

Isn’t my life so amazingly glamorous and fun?

That the insurance company lets this happen is unconscionable in my book. I know I’m not the only person they do this to. But because it is happening to me, it’s…just…the worst! I don’t know how I can get around this. I don’t know how to deal with anymore. Beyond the crying, I mean.

The other difficult part of this is trying to do the best I can for my dad. That’s the whole reason I’m here: to take care of my dad. I feel like I’m letting him down in so many ways. I do my best to keep things taken care of at the bare minimum, doing more when I feel up to it, but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Thankfully, all the work we did before my dad got home has made it easier to maintain a basic level of cleanliness. It just doesn’t feel…enough. I also cannot — CANNOT — allow my dad to see me upset. Not as upset as I feel. He takes that on and personalizes it, which isn’t good for him. So I hide it. But I’m crumbling.

And this, my friends, is also why I’m failing to post regularly unless I prep posts ahead of time. I’m unraveling. And I don’t know what to do. I’m all out of ideas. Unless it involves sitting in someone’s office and crying uncontrollably. I can do that. I can put in the face time and make everyone uncomfortable. Do you think I should see if the attorney will go to the insurance company’s office with me and watch me cry? (I’m not allowed to deal with them myself since I’m represented.) Do you think the adjustor would care?

Christmas Video of the Day

Da Goddess @ 03:28

2012/12/11

Two-Fer Tuesday: Vintage Trouble

Da Goddess @ 03:15

I’m head over heels for these guys!

You get why, right?

Bonus!

Great Gift for Kids

Da Goddess @ 01:49

You know how you have those days with little kids when they can’t seem to settle down or they’re cranky and need distraction? How about when you need some peace and quiet in the car? I got this: discovery jars (or bottles). I made one for the little boy I took care of. We had these for kids in the hospitals (we’d distract them during IV starts or other procedures). They’re AWESOME and inexpensive.

One of the best jars I found were empty plastic peanut butter jars. They’re not too big, they’re easy to clean, and they have a bright lid, which totally adds to the fun factor. I filled mine with rice and unpopped popcorn kernels.

And, this is very important!! You really do need to glue that lid on, otherwise you can be sure a child (or even a curious adult) will open it. It’s a mess if that happens and with small kids, there’s a choking hazard. GLUE THE LID!

A Remarkable Young Man: Zach Sobiech

Da Goddess @ 00:46

It’s never pleasant reading about kids with terminal illnesses, but this young man is something else! Determined to do something with the time he has left, Zach Sobiech is using music to get through tough times.

Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2009. Since his diagnosis, Zach has endured several surgeries and months of chemo. In May, 2012, the cancer spread to his pelvis and lungs. There are no known effective treatments left. As Zach fights to live, he remains the same joyful soul he has always been. He still smiles as brightly as he did before cancer – it just means more now

Thank you, Stu, for sharing Zach’s story with us.

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