So Proud

Millington High School Graduates.
On their first day of Kindergarten we laughed about how many Open Houses we would have in the family come 2019.   We'd count off the names on our fingers: Gage, Keagan, Gavin, Trevor, Olivia, and Zach.  Five cousins and one honorary cousin that has been part of our lives since the day he was born.

Fast forward through thirteen years of schooling and the day has finally arrived.  Our babies have graduated high school and are heading off to college, the trades, or the workforce.  They are leaving behind their childhoods and officially beginning their adult lives.  Sure, some, perhaps all of them, will continue to live at home as they start laying the foundation for the lives they hope to build for themselves.  But that doesn't change the fact that each of them is planning for a future that hopefully includes homes and families of their own that don't involve living in mom and dad's basement.

These are smart, driven kids, each and every one of them.  I couldn't be more proud, especially of my boy.  I know he will push himself to achieve his goals, that he will work hard whether it's to get good grades in his first year of college or if it's to earn enough money to start building a little nest egg for the day he's ready to move out on his own.

Gage has grown so much and I couldn't be more confident of the wonderful man he will become over the next few years.  To comemmorate this first major accomplishment on the road to adulthood, here are several pictures I took at his graduation.

Gage and Addi 

My sister's family with her graduate, my nephew Keagan.

Ken, Gage, me, and KC.

Hat's off to the class of 2019!

Gage and Addi with their class advisers extraordinaire!

Leaving these halls behind them.

The Youngs - Our family in every way that matters.

My brother's family with their graduate, my nephew Trevor.

Graduation - An on top of the world kind of feeling.

Body Politics: A Look at Politicizing Abortion

I'm going to make a very real effort here to set aside sarcasm and snide commentary.  The urge to include both is a temptation, so this little PSA is just as much for me as it is for you.

As I write this post, the United States is gearing up for another contentious political season.  President Trump is in office and planning to run again. One lone Republican is not backing him, but is instead throwing his name into the ring as a hopeful GOP alternative.  Democrats are flooding the headlines with their plans to run for President; I believe there are 23 people right now who have declared.

Yep, the electoral season is looming large, which means the manipulation of the masses is already in progress.  While I fully expect to see gun control become a much discussed topic in the coming months leading up to the 2020 election, right now the most divisive and vote-worthy topic is that of abortion.  Several states have decided to create laws that are ultimately meant to challenge and, if the GOP manipulation of the Supreme Court was not in vain, overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. 

I will stand by my assertion that the GOP has manipulated events to ensure that a conservative judge would sit on the Supreme Court.  When Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia passed away during Obama's tenure, the Republicans refused to to honor his right to appoint a replacement.  They held his nomination hostage for 293 days while they waited for Trump to take office.  This was unprecedented and set a rather ignoble record. 

However much I may hate it (and I do), the GOP achieved their goal.  They were able to manipulate circumstances to their advantage and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice was appointed at the beginning of Trump's tenure.  This fact has emboldened states to begin enacting legislature that they intend to be challenged and brought before the Supreme Court where Roe v. Wade may get overturned.  At least, that is the hope.

As much as I used to think such a thing would be impossible, I truly do believe the Roe v. Wade may be overturned in my lifetime. 

And I'm outraged.

Here's my personal truth.  Unless my husband's vasectomy suddenly becomes faulty after almost 19 years of being sound, I will personally never have to worry about making this decision for myself. Unless, of course, the unthinkable happens and I impregnated by a rapist.  A thought too horrible to contemplate, but one I cannot rule out in a world where rape is common.  Statistics show that one in five women will be raped in their lifetime.  One in five.  Who knows how trustworthy those statistics are when it's also acknowledged that rape is grossly under-reported.  Perhaps one in five is a conservative estimation.

And, since we're on the topic of rape at the moment, I'm going to continue to follow my personal truth to to it's logical conclusion.  As my husband has undergone a vasectomy, I don't use any form of birth control.  If his procedure were to magically reverse itself, I would be horrified but follow the pregnancy through.  However, if I were assaulted, I would report it and I would ask for the morning after pill, assuming that it hasn't been rendered illegal.  If for any reason a fetus developed, I would want to abort it.  I would not want to go through the long months of pregnancy when the baby would be an emotional and mental torment for everyone in my household.  That's my truth and I quite frankly don't care what you think of me or my choices.

Judge elsewhere.

Mind your own body.

Because that's the beauty of choice.  You get to make the decision for yourself.  If your personal morals would demand you give birth regardless of the means of conception, that's all good.  It's your body, your choice.  I would even commend you and your loved ones on your combined fortitude.  I would offer a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, and whatever practical assistance I could.  If I love you, I'd be there for you if you decided to keep the baby or if you felt adoption would be best.  I would honor your choices. I would not think to reduce you to the function of your reproductive organs.  Not ever.  Not for one minute.

I know for many people religion plays a huge role in their view of abortion.  The argument I've heard most is that if a baby were conceived, regardless of the means, then God meant for that baby to exist.  And God is never wrong, which conversely means that abortion is always wrong. 

If that is your personal truth, I respect it.  Sincerely, I do.  However, in my opinion, this fails to honor God's decision to give us free will. 

It also doesn't explain why laws are being drafted that make miscarriages illegal or ectopic pregnancies a death sentence.  When punishments are drafted into law that completely ignore biology and basic science, I think it's safe to say this no longer a debate about when life begins but becomes a question of why the lives of fully formed and functional females are not valued or respected.  The fact that these proposed laws are so aggressive that they defy common sense is when it is easy to see how abortion is really one of the most effective political motivators out there. 

Abortion is a tool used by politicians to exploit personal moral codes.  It rallies the religious right to view those who have need of the procedure as loose, lazy, and immoral women.  It does not differentiate between medically necessary procedures or decisions based on socio-economic needs.  It does not want to consider the individual lives affected; the women who have abortions are walking wombs, not people at all. 

It's a divide and conquer approach that works.  People will cast their votes based on this one topic alone, just as there are others who will vote mostly to protect their 2nd Amendment rights.  The politicians know how to pull those strings. They know how to craft their messages to get the hornet's nest of righteous indignation stirred into a mindless frenzy that ignores problematic areas in their other policies.  They dispense misinformation and ignore history. 

And it's just beginning.

I hate election seasons.

2019 Book Goals: February Update

Main Reading Goals:
If you will recall, I have a few reading goals I'd like to meet this year.  Among the 75 books total that I'd like to read, there should be at least five classics, five Christmas-themed books, and five Halloween-themed books.  Additionally, in an effort to knock down the TBR piles, I'd like to make sure that at least 30 of those 75 books come from my physical TBR and 20 come from my Kindle TBR.

At the end of February, here's what I've accomplished so far in 2019:

-A total of 24 books read.

-Of those 24 books, only one was a classic.

-Six of those books were from my physical TBR and eight of them were from my Kindle TBR.

-I've not yet picked up any holiday themed titles, but that's okay.

February Overview:
Another great reading month! I read a total of eleven books, which broke down into ten novels and one comic book (not pictured thanks to the collage software being a pain - it would only let me select ten photos for inclusion.)

Looking at the covers of the books I read, it's hard to pick a favorite.  There were several four and five star reads.  I guess, if pressed, I'd say that my favorite was Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor.  I had read the first book in the series last month and wanted to continue the adventure as soon as possible; thank goodness the library ebook was available right away.

If I had one disappointment in February, it was the comic book I picked up.  I had heard such good things about it, but sadly did not find it nearly as entertaining as I had hoped.  Fables takes some of our favorite fairy tale characters and drops them into our world.  Chased out of their individual story lines by a merciless villain, they have formed an underground government for the displaced.  In this opening volume, Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf team up to solve a murder mystery.  This sounds fantastic, right?  Unfortunately, it just didn't work for me.

Monthly Mini-Goal Updates: 
I think I did a fairly good job of reading books I already owned.  I read three from my physical TBR and two from my Kindle shelves.

I borrowed a  total of four books; two from Amazon Prime and two from the library.

I only purchased one ebook this month. It about killed me!

2019 Book Goals: January 2019 Update

Main Reading Goals Update:
January is always a good reading month.  I think it's because the holidays are over and the demands on my time really ease up.  That or I simply find the new year to be invigorating and throw myself into reading with a renewed gusto.  Whatever the reason may be, I managed to read eleven books in the first few weeks of 2019.  (As I write this, there's a very real possibility that I will finish at least one more book, but I'll just throw that on the February list if necessary.)

Picking a favorite this month is difficult.  I enjoyed a number of these books.  If pressed, though, I guess I'd have to say that as much as Firefly filled me with warm fuzzies and I hope that the series continues, I think I'd have to say that Strange the Dreamer was the best read of January.  I plan on adding the sequel to my February TBR - thank goodness the library has it available in Kindle!

That really was harder than you'd think.  I read a lot of good stuff these last few weeks.  I followed the ever-gory and unashamedly vulgar Gertrude through Fairyland.  I also finished The Vampire Archives audio book after months and months of listening to short stories selected from throughout literary history.  I got in two contemporary books, which is quite unusual for me, and enjoyed them both.

You may have noticed there were no classics in the mix this month.  My book club got a little behind during the hectic last weeks of 2018.  We last read I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  Discussion for that book is scheduled at the end of this month, which means I've felt no real urge to pick up our next pick, which is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Also lacking from this list is a Halloween or Christmas-themed book.  Not surprising considering those holidays are months away and not exactly on my mind right now.

Mini-Goals Update: 

On Book Buying - 1 Book Per Month:
I  am not going to count books that I buy for others.  Those aren't going on my TBR, so they don't count.  That being said, I only purchased one book this month!  That's a mini-goal win, friends!

When I saw Sightwitch listed in the Kindle Daily Deals, I caved because I already own Truthwitch and Windwitch.  I'm just adding to the series I've already started collecting.

Now I just need to hope the series is worth collecting.

I love witch stories, so I'm really not that worried about whether or not I'll enjoy the books.  As long as they are well written, have interesting characters, and a decent plot, of course.  Standards.

Borrowing Books From The Library:
I actually did read two library books this month.  They were Elevation by Stephen King and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.

Read My Own Books Purchased In or Before 2018:
Ignoring the library books, so far, that's all I've done.  Sure, a couple of these titles were purchased in the last days of 2018, but that's okay!
  • Firefly Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove 
  • The Girl Who Stole a Planet by Stephen Colegrove
  • The Vampire Archives a collection of stories by various authors (audiobook)
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  • When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs
  • I Hate Fairyland #5 by Skottie Young
  • I Hate Fairyland #6 by Skottie Young

I Joined Weight Watchers

This is not an easy post to write.  It's hard to talk about the fact that I was at my all time heaviest on January 1, 2019.  I know there's probably some value in writing down and sharing the number with the world, but I'm not going to do that.  My weight is a number.  An embarrassingly high number, but a number nonetheless.

Here's what I am willing to disclose.  First, let's take a look at this picture.  It was taken at my family Christmas party. I love it and hate it all at once.

I love it because this is my family (minus Gage's girlfriend, who couldn't join us because she had a party of her own to attend).  You can tell something just happened that everyone found funny.  I mean, look at those smiles, they're not fake.  There's laugh lines visible on each face.  I love this!

But then I notice how I look and some of my joy in this photo fades.  My face is as round as the moon.  My waist is thick.  I look puffy and overweight because I am.

Now, you would think the mirror would show me this every morning, but I don't seem to see the weight in the same way when I'm putting on my makeup, doing my hair, or checking out an outfit.  It's only in pictures that I see how heavy I have gotten.

And it makes me sad.

And I've had enough.

I have tried other weight loss programs, but never Weight Watchers.  So, I'm trying it now using the Weight Watchers App, which runs $20 a month.  After putting in my weight, age, and whatever else it asked me to provide, I found out I get to use 23 points a day.

 Luckily, there are several free foods (eggs, vegetables, most fruits).  There's also some really convenient features that make tracking your points easy.  The scan feature is amazing.  If the scan doesn't find the item in the database, you can add it yourself and the app will break down the food into points per serving.

Another awesome feature is the built-in, searchable recipes.  I've tried the one-point pancakes and loved them.  However, if you have your own recipe that you want to use but your not sure about the points involved, you can build your own recipe and the app does the math for you.

I started this on January 2, 2019.  To date, I have lost 6.8 pounds.  It's a start and it's not been nearly as difficult as I expected it would be. 

Thank goodness I like eggs, vegetables, and fruit, though!  Those free foods have saved me more than once.