Family Firsts Friends Health Household Kids

A Bold and Dashing Adventure, aka, We’re Moving to Albuquerque!

Brace yourselves, kittens, Chooch has been officially notified of his reassignment to Albuquerque, NM, and his start date is October 2nd!!!

The move will get us so much closer to Chooch’s 16 y.o. Son. (We haven’t made it to Cali yet, but we’re finally getting closer!)

Added bonus? Along with Chooch’s Son, his Mom, Dad, Step-Mom, Sister and her Husband all live in the same area! Where we’ll live will actually be close enough for a road trip to soooo many beloved family members (and their babies!), including our own GrandSon Little Bear! We are so very happy, life’s gonna get so cute again!

It should be a less-stressful position for Chooch, that we feel more fulfilling and less draining., and by all accounts (incl doctors), the region would hopefully improve how I feel with my health blahs. We don’t plan on living there forever, but we’re so very excited for this new adventure!

Locals, we’re moving in mid to late September, which is VERY soon. We want to see as many people as we can while we prep to move and continue to purge down our items. If you want to gather before we move, please let me know. I’m hoping to do little gatherings to see as many as possible.

It’s a very big change, but with our resident middle son and our pup Kaylee going with us, we are BEYOND excited at this new adventure!

I got this in a fortune cookie the night before we got the big news!
I got this in a fortune cookie the night before we got the big news!

Health Household Whining

January 2015 Health Update, Delayed

I’ve still been chasing a return to normal health and a normal life for the last 5 years. What started out as debilitating flu symptoms, which after much testing, led to a diagnosis of Vestibular Migraines (migraines, near-constant dizziness, fatigue, memory and comprehension/cognitive problems and HIGHLY entertaining neurological problems). I want nothing more to be useful again, both in income and employment satisfaction, running and exercise, parenting up to my standards, podcasting and public speaking, putting creations into the world, and just living more fully.

It was a shock, especially as swiftly as onset incapacitated me, but in hindsight, I’d been battling my headaches and other symptoms while minimizing their importance for years. They were nothing compared to what my ex-husband’s family experienced with their hereditary migraine issues, so who was I to complain? The frequency even triggered a halt to using Tylenol products because of their liver damaging potential, and I’m still not allowed to take them.

Five years later, I have a mixed bag of chronic illnesses, having added fibromyalgia, tmj, etc., and have been chasing pain relief since November of 2009. Onset was a spectrum of symptoms from what was diagnosed as vestibular migraines and as I learned to adapt to them, symptoms of tmj and fibromyalgia became the focus of attention. When nearly all of  of my 18 tender points, if not trigger points, are firing off pain, it’s easy to understand why I was chasing it as opposed to the migraines I’d been receiving treatment for almost 3 years for from my respected Neurologist, Dr. P.

I’d been juggling both, with nothing more from my neurologist at one point than break-through migraine pain management continuing, until last year. Dr. P. told me he couldn’t help me with my migraines until my Rheumatologist and I had my Fibro under control without opiods, which are migraine triggers.

He was concerned about possible interactions and took away my final tier of pain management – a pill that lets me sleep, no matter how intense the pain. That pill kept me sane for many years, just by being in my possession. It was reassuring because if the pain became unbearable, I would still be able to relieve it through deep sleep.

Many times, I would awake rested without the migraine. I rarely took it, as it could be risky for me to use otherwise, since I would have taken other medications up to that point. Again, just a reassuring pat would lower my anxiety and panic response, and at times, was calming as a valium.

And then, just, gone. It was a scary adjustment, but not earth-shattering as other life issues have been pressing in as well. I focused all my efforts on finding something with her that would work, trying a variety of medications and having some gnarly reactions to all of them.

Then, end of last year, I reported to my Rheumatologist the results of the latest pain cocktail, and she told me that she doesn’t have any other options to try on me.

Now I’ve redoubled my efforts with my Neurologist, with only a handful of options left.

I realize these health issues are nothing compared to health issues of others that I know or don’t know. But I grant myself the same kindness I do everyone else — a person’s pain shouldn’t be compared from one person to the next because we are all traveling with our own sadness, regardless of the reason.

It’s not a competition, this is me speaking about me, in a place I feel safe to speak, humbly, before I forget it.

Family Household Soulful

New Nest!


Chooch and I have a wonderful opportunity and we will be moving at the end of this month to a new home we are making with Eldest/Naughty Bear/M and his wife, our daughter(-in-law), who is too cool to be believable. Seriously, she can even herd Eldest, it’s glorious!

I can’t express how excited I am to be able to see them so often and to be there when Little Bear comes home from the hospital, safe in their arms at the end of March.

We have not yet picked out the next place, but because hubby’s duty station was changed (again!) from Reston to DC, we are looking at MD for a shorter commute for Chooch.

And we’ll finally be able to live in a place that, going in the door, we can ensure accommodates my physical debilities / Health Blahs. It sucks not being able to see daylight (one window in our comfy basement) or go to the kitchen or ask others to let Kaylee out for potty breaks. We are being super picky about those little comforts in the hopes of streamlining things for everyone, after all.

I’m saddened to leave Ashburn after calling this home for three years and surviving oh, so much, while we battened down the hatches against sadness, illness and death and helped each other heal many owies. We happily shared our lives, laughter, experiences, company, and our children, with our former and remaining Housies. My ears will always ring with the remembered trusting giggles and madcap adventures.

I can’t imagine not seeing Jen’s Wee Flowers as often as we do, and to miss out on all the fun as we have watch them grow since summer of 2010. But I also know that our bonds and love will survive. We’ve been through too much and won’t allow our friendships to die now. I can’t wait until we gather again to continue our baking traditions after the move.

I’ll also miss her father, grumpy as he is, for I love him, too. He’s one of the few people that you always know EXACTLY where you stand with him and he doesn’t lie or bullshit. I love that in people. Honesty is the information I seek, not sugar-coated air. Oh, and for always letting our dog live after eating his stuff. Sandwiches, pizza slices, cheese, crackers and dentures. #DamnDog

And it’s a big deal for me that I’ll be living out of Virginia (barely) for the first time since 1987, when I moved here from Central Texas. The few family members that remain live near enough to visit, although we are still much farther from Chooch’s son than we’d hoped to be, with this move. We were shooting for the stars, but the employment situation where our youngest sweet son is makes it impossible, but only for now.

But straight ahead?

New roads, new home, new hearts under our roof, new chapter.

Bring it on.

Family Friends Health Household Our Kids

Communal Living

Every once in a while, I find myself in a discussion about our living space being in another, completely separate family’s basement. And while it was nothing any of us sought out specifically, after almost a year of living here almost exclusively, I have found great comfort and happiness here.

We have benefited financially, paying less than we would have for a living space. And also by sharing communal groceries and shopping in bulk to save money.

We have benefited materially, by paring down our piles of junk into lesser piles of junk.

I have benefited from the companionship. When you had been a mom for two decades and suddenly you are stuck alone in your silent home for almost 2 years, just hearing footsteps in another part of the house is a comfort. There is life here. I can hear it. And so I feel a little less isolated and lonely when trapped inside by my Health Blahs.

Yes, one of my Housies moved out recently. Yes, I miss her terribly. Our relationship remains untouched by distance, and I will always treasure the house because it gave me that deep bond and friendship and several others. Nothing lasts forever, Kittens, and it’s the bonds that last that matter the most. I pray that our friendship continues, but I only have so much control over that. I will grieve it if it doesn’t survive but am learning to accept the fact that no matter how much I want something, I cannot always make it happen. Progress?

In spite of the change and in spite of the chaos that comes along with sharing a home with a family with young children, this is a place where my family fits, at least for right now.  I never know what I’m going to see when I head to the kitchen at mealtime, and it’s usually something ridiculously adorable. Honestly, I feel so much younger for playing and cooking with these little girls, I feel like I should pay them!


  • What, Tiny Expert? You want us all to watch while you perform a magic show? Count me in!
  • Now Feral Dancer’s doing a magic show? Yes, please!
  • What, Jen? You have errands to run and want to take me with you? Yes! I get to knock out my errands, too! (I don’t drive anymore.)
  • What, Phil? You want to write a song on your guitar while I’m cooking dinner? Sure! (I’m a lifelong music geek.)

These are all things I wouldn’t experience if we didn’t live here.

I am happy to say that regardless of what others may believe, this is a place where sunbeams and bubbles are chased while others erupt in delighted laughter. Real laughter, to the extent that tears are rolling and/or you get the unstoppable little girl giggle going and end up gasping for air. Children of all ages laugh and play here, comfortably and safely. Of our kids that have visited us here so far, they have been safe and (allegedly) happy. There is always someone to chat with if bored and Mom is down with a migraine and Chooch is at work. There is always a pet nearby with ears just dying to be skritched.

If it is something you are considering, do it with eyes wide open. You will be eating, sleeping, drinking, pooping (everybody does, and apparently mine is the only poo that smells like rose petals!), sick/healing, exhausted, laughing and cleaning up after each other and those that accompany them. It’s not a decision to take lightly, as both sides are made extremely vulnerable for the duration. Everyone’s pet peeve button will get jammed countless times, and compromise will become your motto, as all here have compromised in one way or another to accommodate the others. But in our case, we really lucked out and it was as near a perfect fit as possible. And although the fit has changed now, I remain happy here.

Whether we are here until September of 2012 or September of 2022, I will always treasure my Housie family and our times together, some magnificent and some heart-breaking. But damn you, Laughter, and the wrinkles you bring when one is lucky enough to laugh this much!

Family Household Too Long For Twitter

House Closing This Friday!

We finally go to settlement this coming Friday. After very close to a year, it’s been a long, expensive and difficult endeavor and I am happy to be only 70 hours away from completion.

That said, it’s been a life-changing experience, more so than any other move in my life except for the move my boys and I made when their dad moved out. There has been as much laughter as there has tears, thanks to an overwhelmingly supportive group of friends, as well as my sons. Without them, Chooch and I would have never made it through this sanely. Well, as sane as we started, anyways.

There is so much about us that is changed, that it is truly a re-birth as we discover who we are and explore our lives and possibilities together.

It is surreal to live so far from my family, but having the housemates I have, along with the insane amount of support and love we share for each other, we feel secure that this is the right place for us.

I would like to thank EVERYONE that has been supportive during this time, whether it was helping us pack, move, clean, vent, scream, cry, laugh, sent a supportive email or message, called or visited. We now know the depth of our friendships with so many people, and are in awe of the mass tonnage of exceptional humans in our lives. It truly is a wondrous thing to know whose heart you reside in, especially when those people already reside in your own heart.

Happy Frakkin’ Tuesday, Dear Reader!

Household No Whining Too Long For Twitter

The Grand Purge

I realize I haven’t posted here in awhile. I have multiple things to blame for this, primarily my brain fog. I honestly forget to write here because I am now journaling in a notebook and am lucky enough to have people around me all the time. Previously, the stuff I had no one to tell, or was too long for T/FB, would get posted here. I am actually doing more writing than I’ve done in decades, other than that November in 2010 (NaNoWriMo).

I will endeavor to make it a habit to do all my digitally, and if too personal simply won’t post it. It is exactly what my new life requires of me, after all.

Here’s the skinny: in the last month, my husband and I have come to truly embrace the changes occurring in our lives and to use the opportunities presented to really shake things up.

We have decided to shed the ancient artifacts of our lives, at least the ones that no longer “apply” and only keep the treasured items that mean so much to us that they merit space in our tiny new living space. We had initially decided on paying to store what doesn’t fit in our rooms, but have since decided to simplify. Everything.

For me, this means a hefty purge, and will only be keeping:

  • Items we have utilized within the last year;
  • Items we wish we had on hand within the last year, since most beloved items have been packed away while the house has been staged to sell;
  • Digital representations of beloved items whenever possible, obviously meaning photos, childhood art projects, anything flat OR taking photos of important items that no longer serve us. For example, I have a decorative planter that my mother received when I was born. I have no idea who sent it to her, nor has it seen the light of day more than twice in the last 30 years. With a *snap* of the camera and trip to a donation drop-off site, I will have easier access to the image of this item and someone else can have a planter for a new baby gift on the cheap;
  • Streamlining for efficiency of time and space are a HUGE focus of mine.
    • For the house, I keep visualizing the micro compact houses. It makes it easier to decide what is extraneous and what is necessary. No, our space isn’t quite that limited, so I’m keeping frivolous and decorative items that I feel enrich my daily experience;
    • For my life, minimizing, where I can, situations that stress me out because I typically have to retreat because of the physical impact, creating pain and chaos;
    • For my form, it means altering my daily rituals.
      • Not having the ability to work currently, I have been toying with two extremes involving my hair that will minimize the upkeep time – dreadlocks or cutting off all my hair. The hair buzzing will resolve multiple issues for me, including giving me a boost in available time immediately. It will also likely trigger the wish that I had done dreads first, so I will likely do dreads knowing that I intend to buzz them if they don’t “fit” my life. This is becoming more likely as my friend and I plan “Dread Play,” which is playing with my hair and determining if I can live with it. Plus, a friend, Jason, said he would refer to me as “The Dreaded Viv” and I don’t think I can pass that opportunity up! Seriously!
      • Continuing my hunt for foods that have a negative impact on me (food intolerance). Peanuts have proven to make me feel terrible. Although I’m not fully satisfied with my testing, to date it appears that I also have an intolerance to gluten and oats. Once I feel more sure, those foods will be banned and only ingested when I decide it tastes better than not possibly being in pain. High cost on that trade off, to be sure.
      • The above item, as well as the treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever that I was diagnosed with 2 weeks ago, should allow me to resume exercise. My joint pain has been excruciating, along with another new health issue, making exercise impossible, including walking for long distances. Talk about sucky! This time last year I was training for a half-marathon run. Now I just want to be able to run a mile again!

I have already encountered backlash from this new way of living: one item I offered to others caused them to question how much I valued the persons represented by the object. I was judged harshly, but I decided that it was more important to live the way I choose than to cart around a physical item (that I have a digital representation of) because it satisfied a need in another person. If I cave to the thinking of others, that adds about 10,000 more items for me to retain in boxes in storage. For those that judge, my standard response is either a shrug of my shoulders or a “Suck it up, cupcake.”

This has been the greatest discovery during this ultimate era of change – I find it easier to disregard other people’s opinions and to only do what makes sense for us. And if you think that means we don’t take in other people’s opinions you are wrong. We just won’t do as told out of obligation, but rather if it is the right fit or us. I’m thrilled that my husband and I are embracing this period of change and growth both individually and as a couple. It’s definitely strengthened us, and has given us much enjoyment as we question every “can’t” and “shouldn’t” that we encounter.

We have freedom in ways that I have never before experienced. I intend to make the most of it while I can.

What major changes have you implemented that have improved your life?

Anti-Health Cooking Family Household

All Hail the Cinnamon Distraction

Like nearly all humans, I have a conflicted relationship with my family. They build me up, they break me down, yadda, yadda, yadda. But in times of desperation, when reaching for truth, they come through with the giggle making.

I give to you the word for word accounting of an exchange in Facebook with my sons and siblings regarding a recent discovery. Names changed to protect my family from our own silliness.

Note: If you aren’t familiar with the Cinnamon Challenge, search it out on Youtube. I won’t link here because I will not be held responsible for copycats. Swallow at your own peril.

…That’s what she said.

Also, I’ve thrown the cinnamon away. I will not cook with something that was that close to airborne fecal contaminants.

On to the discussion surrounding this photo:

  • <Me>: “My sons have some explaining to do. I’ve been looking for this for over a month, only to find it in their bathroom cabinet. (Naughty Bear)? (LT)? Who wants to confess to this one? Should I search Youtube for evidence? Mommeh no likey.<Longtime Family Friend/More Like a Sister> likes this.
  • <Naughty Bear>: Was not me, <LT> kept trying to get me to eat a spoonful. I’ll rat him out idc.
    • <My Sister/Their Aunt> likes this.
  • <LT>: Uhh.. how did that get there…?
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <LT>: It was <His cousin, Roboto Dude>’s idea!
  • <My Bro (and RD’s Dad)>: <RD> said nay!!!!!!!
  • <LT>: Alright, fine. It was my idea. But <RD> did it with me!
  • <My Bro>: AHA!!! He had already left for school when I posted that…AHA again I say!!!
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <My Sister>: This picture and entire thread crack me up. God I love my family ♥
  • <Me>: I love my kids and family. I decree there shall be no punishment! The entertainment value more than suffices for the loss of half a gigantic bottle of cinnamon.
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <Me>: Wait, you did it? Pix or it didn’t happen.
  • <My Sister, misunderstanding>: Who me? Psssh, yeah right, I’m not nearly that brilliant. I just liked your decree.
  • <My Bro>: Still, that stuff isn’t cheap. kids these days need to be taught that cinnamon does not grow on trees!!!
    • <I> like this.
  • <My Sister>:  Hahahahahaha!!!!! Again, I love my family!
Family Health Household

Hectic Silence

Apologies for the sporadic posting here, in Twitter, and in Facebook. We have so many things going on right now that it’s been hard to maintain contact as we’re in constant motion.

The house is still on the market, as the Open House yielded no offers. Nor have any of those that have viewed it before and after. We’re still waiting it out, and hoping it sells sooner rather than later, but it’s not encouraging.

There has been a lot of activity with Chooch’s band, Ditched by Kate, as they have been playing shows and are preparing for a fierce throwdown at Balticon on May 28th at 7:00 pm in the Garden Room.

We’re also really excited about their EP Launch Party on Tuesday, May 31st at Jammin Java in Vienna. There will be three other acts performing, and as soon as I know their performance time it will be posted on the official Ditched by Kate site. If you are unable to attend either show, we will be posting information on how to order the Stumble EP very soon.

In other news, I’m fulfilling button orders for Balticon and if you are interested in purchasing some custom buttons with either your design or a design that we create for you, please take a look at my fledgling business, Vivid Muse Creations, LLC.

As for non-business stuff, I’m excitedly planning out the summer visit for my youngest son, LT. It’s a bit chaotic with the house on the market, but we will have a wonderful time!

I’m having some issues with running after the Komen 5k, as the final hill has caused me continuing knee pain. That partnered with my flared up back pain (manageable) and some pulled muscles in my ribs have finally forced me to take a short break from running in the hopes of not doing long-term damage. It’s just fast-paced walking for me now, but I’ll be pulling out my bike this week as well. I’ve been afraid of riding it in case I get dizzy on it, but I won’t know until I get on it. With padding and helmet to protect me, I’m going to give it a try. I promise if I fall to take pix of the boo-boo’s and have a hilarious telling of it here.

I’m really bummed, because I signed up for an 8k for next Saturday, thanks to a $10 registration fee through Groupon, but I’m now thinking I won’t be able to even attempt it, let alone finish it. If I’m lucky and rest up and can restart my training, then the 10k in mid-June is still possible.

We are having great fun watching George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series on HBO every Sunday night, and we hop on Skype with friends P.G. Holyfield, Christiana Ellis and Nuchtchas (Nutty) Nimlas on Monday nights to record our Beyond the Wall Podcast. We discuss the series, the books and it is always a lot of fun. I’m grateful the P.G. is bearing the brunt of the production work, as he’s doing a wonderful job and I’m very proud to be a part of it. He just created a promo for it from outtakes that shows how much fun we have, but I think it’s likely NSFW or kids.

We’ve sadly had little to no time for gaming. I’m having increased difficulty as I almost always end up extremely dizzy and nauseous during a gaming session and usually end up with a migraine. We treasure the time with our long-time gaming friends and I’m refusing to let that stop me. I’m learning some tricks to minimize it and will keep trying new ones.

On a teensy note, I willingly tried asparagus and portabello mushrooms last night and they were delicious in the pasta dish our dear friend Jenn made. I’m tentatively branching out as I am continuing my quest for healthier foods that may or may not make my pee smell funny.

Consumer Info Family Household No Whining

Move Update with Pictures

Brace yourself, kittens. I held off on posting photos because I wanted to see friend MAinPA’s reaction to the changes firsthand. Since she has come and gone, here they are. If you’ve been to our house, you’ll notice a HUGE change, specifically in the former living room/now sitting room. And most of the belongings that display who we are and what our interests are now reside in a 10′ x 10′ storage space a few miles away.

Welcome to our shame of living in a home free of personality and color.

Yes, the 65″ tv is in storage. And it was Chooch’s idea! The first reaction we typically get when folks enter the house is, “I had no idea you had windows there!” since the tv was placed in front of the windows in the now sitting room.

It doesn’t seem fitting to continue to call it “Our Big Paradise,” now it feels like we’re staying in a hotel that we have to constantly clean.

Ah, well. At least we have memories and pictures of how it used to be. And it will be much easier to move, whenever that is.

Consumer Info Cooking Cool Links / Clicky Linky Household No Whining

Home Ec 101 – Help For Your Housekeeping

The majority of the house prep is done and our home has been listed for sale. Now it’s just a matter of knocking out the yard sale to clear the garage and we can sit back and wait for the offers to come rolling in. Oh, I forgot, we have to keep the house pristine for potential buyers while living in it with a large dog that drools and sheds a lot. No big deal, right?

The site Home Ec 101 first came to my attention, guessing here, when author Mur Lafferty tweeted about it at some point in 2010.  I looked into it and was immediately sucked in. It provides all sorts of information for those that may have never learned how to do the basics of cooking and cleaning and find themselves in need of guidance. The site also gives guidance on home repairs and laundry solutions. The site is not just for beginners, as I’ve been maintaining a home of my own for over 20 years and still find lots of useful information. There is even a section on cooking, with information for beginners, along with recipes and food safety.

From the site, “Home-Ec 101 is an attempt to reach average people and teach them the domestic arts that make life a little less expensive, a little easier, and a little more enjoyable.”  Blogger Heather Solos gives a slightly different take on how to get things done, and I enjoy it. You don’t get beaten up for not being Martha Stewart and it casts a realistic eye on the availability of time and funds of American families.

My very favorite thing about the site? The cleaning schedule. When I first perused the site I jumped at a pre-made, no thought needed schedule for keeping the house clean. I fell off the schedule during the Christmas rush, but now that my home is clean and needs to stay that way, I’m back on the program.

It’s simple and straight-forward, although not easy. Yesterday was laundry catch-up and bedding day, and since I was otherwise occupied for most of the weekend, that means pretty a LOT of laundry had to be caught-up. I didn’t finish (four bedrooms and not being well), so I’m rolling it in to today’s tasks, which includes cleaning the floors and a 15 minute quick pick-up and smudge patrol.

There is a standard set of tasks to do every day, along with items like those listed above added on top. I really enjoyed the results when I did it before, and like everything else, consistency is what will make it a success or a failure. Miss one or two days and you can catch up easily without a major re-cleaning. More than that and you’d better put some real time aside. Being back on this schedule will also prevent me from feeling like I have to obsess for hours every day, just in case we’re lucky enough to have someone interested in viewing our house.

And while customization of the list may be needed to fit your individual households, it’s a great place to get into the mind set of keeping things tidy.

**Thanks to Mia for noticing the schedule posted in my kitchen, as it reminded me to share the site here. I hope you find it as useful as I have.**