Forgiving my father and praying for a speedy recovery…


This is my dad. He’s 70 years old now. Despite everything that happened when I was young, I have forgiven him.  He told me that he will go to his grave, forever being sorry for what he’s done to us kids.  He believed my mother when she’d call him home from work, screaming at him that she couldn’t handle these kids and that they needed to be punished.  As I mentioned before in THIS post, Mom did this, feeling justified because she wanted him to wear himself out beating us so that he wouldn’t have the energy to hurt her.  I blame my mother for most of what happened to us because she never took drugs and never drank alcohol.  He did.  Not that that’s an excuse but she was in control of her own mind.  He always told us that “the devil in the bottle” controlled his mind.  She’d lie to him and tell him that my brother, now deceased, and I did horrible things.  Most of the time, we didn’t know what she was talking about because we were locked in our room and COULDN’T do the things she accused us of.  My baby brother would usually be the guilty party but Mom DID have natural love for him and never wanted Dad to hurt him.  In her mind, it was okay to have dad hurt J and I because we were 3 and 4 years older than Keith and she felt we could handle the blows from this huge man, who was our father.  When Mom looked at us, she saw the face of my father and she couldn’t love us.  Keith looks like her and was always a beautiful child.  She would do her best to protect him.

MUCH time has past and through many rocky years, I’ve always known my dad loved me.  He was the only one to ever show affection, pride and natural love.  He did this in his down time when he would be trying hard not to drink and do drugs.  He stopped MOST drugs and cut out ALL alcohol when my brother was killed.  It crushed Dad and he has never been the same.  He loved my brother so much and didn’t realize how he was hurting us both until the day J died.  He’s shown open and anguishing grief.  Mom, if she ever grieved, didn’t show it.  It looked as if she were going to the funeral of a stranger.  I have forgiven my dad because he allowed us to see his human side.

He’ll never be perfect and I don’t expect him to be.  I love him through his faults and his triumphs.  That’s the way it should be.  It’s not to say that I don’t still have nightmares and don’t have to work through the events of my past.  I do.  BUT, it helps because I have at least one parent who admits wrong doing and I know he’d take it all back if he could.

Right now, I’m on my way to get him to bring him to the hospital for surgery tomorrow.  His aortic valve is closing and he’s in very bad shape.  He needs open heart surgery but the Veteran’s Hospital needs to put him on a waiting list to receive the surgery where they won’t have to break his rib cage.  Apparently, they can do open heart surgery by going through the groin like they do with angioplastic surgery now.  Who knew?

Anyway, I’m afraid to lose this man.  Besides my younger brother, he’s the only link to my past and the only one who truly knows me.  It’s so scary to lose your parents.  I wouldn’t even want to lose mom.  It makes me sick thinking about it.  It’s a whole new world knowing that there aren’t parents left anymore and WE become the adults.

I know he may sound like a monster to many of you but I’m asking that you’ll keep him in your prayers anyway.  Despite all, he’s still my daddy.

I’ll be gone for 4 days, waiting with my stepmother at the VA hospital 3 hours away.  Oddly enough, I can’t get internet connection inside the hospital.  I won’t be able to follow all of you and know what’s going on with you after I leave the hotel room tomorrow morning.  Just know that you’re all in my thoughts and prayers and I’m thinking of you!


I’m SO excited!

I say this (so excited thing) with a little trepidation…  Knowing I may feel differently in a few hours!  lol  My nieces are coming!  They’re actually getting to spend the night today.  This is a HUGE thing because their mama doesn’t like for them to sleep anywhere but safely, right under her roof.  I don’t blame her, I was the SAME way.  I remember crying when my kids had to spend the night visiting their dad on weekends.  I HATED being without them.  My wonderful sister in law, however, took mercy on me.  She knows I’m missing them and need to spend time with them.  I’m very sick (don’t worry – not contagious) and I feel like my back is up against the wall.  I’m battling time here.  While I feel well enough to handle these little demons  angels, I want to spend as much time as I can.


This is 4 year old Esme’.  She’s a HANDFUL and a half.  That doesn’t even cover it.  Personality enough for 40 people, really.  She has meltdowns when they make her leave my house and I have to tell her that she can’t come back if she doesn’t leave.  HAHA!  It’s true, how can she come back if she doesn’t first leave?  She scratches her head and tries to understand.  Anyway, she’s probably the most intelligent child I’ve ever spent time around.  Not in the traditional way either.  She actually has a hard time focusing on letters and numbers BUT she knows things that she’s never read or seen on TV.  It’s in her head.  She’s not even allowed to watch TV at home.


Esme’s actually pretty rotten.  That’s probably why I love her so much.  I’m glad, though, that I’M not the one who has to make the major decisions regarding her life!  Whew!  I’ve already raised one of these kinds of kids and let me tell you….  it just about KILLED me!  lol  Can you see the evil glint in her eye?


To sweeten the pot, a little, my brother and sister in law gave me Ireland Elizabeth!  She’s the EXACT opposite of Esme and is just good and stable!  lol  I love her in a different way than Esme’.  She’s my squirmy snuggler.  Ireland is 8 months old.


Here I am with Ireland and her older sister, my intelligent and wonderful niece, Aubrie!  I don’t get to spend NEARLY enough time with Aubrie because of school and sports but I’m SO close to her too and even more proud of her.  I expect that she’ll be running a major corporation one day.

I’ve said before and I meant it, my nieces are like my daughters.  I couldn’t love them more if they came from my body.  I’m SO thankful to my brother and sister in law for deciding to have these babies later in life.  They add the spice that my life was needing and they keep my young!

Harvest Cheesy Potatoes

As I mentioned, last night I made Oven-Fried Buttermilk Chicken.  I had to have some kind of starchy yumminess to go with it,right? Glad you agree 😉

Harvest Cheesy Potatoes


5 cups peeled and cubed OR grated potatoes

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

2 tsp creole seasoning (you can use any kind of season salt)

1 medium onion, chopped (optional)

1 cup sour cream

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or throw in an extra handful like I always do!)

1 cup panko or regular bread crumbs mixed with 2 TBSP melted butter

OR you can top with cornflakes or potato chips


Combine potatoes, soup, butter, season salt, onion, sour cream and cheese.  Pour into a greased 9×13 inch pan.  Top with bread crumbs, cornflakes or potato chips (1 cup).  Bake at 350 F for one hour.

This was SO good!

Oven-Fried Buttermilk Chicken

I made the most amazing dinner last night 🙂  I’m an awesome cook but sometimes my heart’s not in it.  Last night it must have been!  I had piano lessons (bucket list thing) but I wanted to make sure dinner was put together and in the oven so that all Julia (teenage munchkin) really had to do was take it out and eat.  Surprise…  it all came together!

(photo credit:

Oven-Fried Buttermilk Chicken


2 cups flour

3 tsp Creole Seasoning (You can use any kind of season salt)

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp salt

1 pkg (10) chicken drumskicks

1.5 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter


Dip chicken in buttermilk.  Dredge chicken into mixed dry ingredients.

Drizzle melted butter onto a rimmed baking sheet.  Place chicken in pan and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.  With tongs, carefully turn chicken and bake for another 30 minutes.

Easy and delicious!  I served these with my cheesy potatoes.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Forward

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
Henry Ford

Moving forward. My little 5 year old niece Selah trying to catch Julia. They’re playing tag. Thanksgiving in Texas.

Most Inspiring Blogger Award!


I feel SO unworthy, yet appreciative 🙂  Carissa, who writes on ramblingsofabipolarwoman, nominated me.  You should TOTALLY go check her out.  Why?  Because she’s honest and doesn’t beat around the bush.  She writes about things that would shock most people and you might raise your eyebrows because she’s an open book.  Hers is the only kind of blog I actually enjoy following because I don’t feel like she’s lying to me or sugar coating anything.  Her feelings are real and I’ve learned from them.  I’m actually mad that I wasn’t the one who nominated her!  lol  I’m new to blogging though so I wouldn’t have known how to do it anyway.

Here are the rules:  I’m supposed to post a pic of the award (which I did) and link back to the person who nominated me (check).

Now I have to share 8 facts about myself:

  1. My name is really Michelle
  2. I love the water.  I love the sound of rushing water or the sound of a creek babbling.  I love to be anywhere near the water during the summer or winter.
  3. I was born on April 10, 1966 (3’oclock), Easter Day and my dad said I was the “rottenist egg” he ever received from the Easter Bunny!  lol
  4. My brother was born on April 10 (3’oclock) 1967.  I believe he was my twin who forgot to be born a year earlier with me.  Weird about the date and time, eh?
  5. I became a mom, the first time, at the age of 17.
  6. I graduated from HS 9 1/2 mos pregnant.
  7. I LOVE to travel and see new things.
  8. I have been diagnosed with a terminal condition 8 years ago and have survived anyone’s predictions….  however, the grim reaper won’t stop trying to come for me and I need an intestinal transplant to keep living.  

Next:  I’m going nominate some people for The Most Inspiring Blogger Award.  When I nominate you, you will do the same as me and go through the steps.  I can’t wait to read all the facts about you!

So, stop by these awesome blogs and share with us what you like 🙂  The people I nominated need to nominate the bloggers they’re inspired by and then notify those people with a link back to their page.  Be sure and display the blogger award on your page so everyone knows how awesome you are!  lol  I have SO many more people who inspire me, but in the interest of time, I’ll stop here.

The Face of Autism (for me)…


This is Alex.  If you ask him who he is, he’ll say “Alex, A-L-E-X spells Alex”.  He can’t communicate like you or I but his mind is so beautiful.  When he’s happy, he flaps his hands like he’s going to fly away.  Or he’ll spin in circles.  Right now, he’s happy because he’s had his “Cookie Crisp cereal” without milk and his apple juice.  He has to have a routine in order to have his world make sense to him.  He’s happy because we gave him his books.  His WORD books with pictures of animals.  The words never change in these books and the pictures stay the same.  He lives for equations and order.


(me and AlLex at the park)

Alex is 7 years old now.  He’s not mine but he calls me “Auntie Shewell” (it sounds like Antie Shoowoool).  I’ve been in his life since before he was born.  My friends, who were married at the time but aren’t any longer, decided to have a baby later in life.  Alex’s mom and dad were almost 40.  They were SO happy the day they found out their new baby would be a boy.  Jerry only had girls and he wanted a boy to be rough and tough like he is.  Dianna just wanted a healthy baby. Alex WAS healthy.  In fact, the day he was born, we were amazed at how calm and alert he was.  He was SO pretty.  Prettier than a girl and too pretty to be a new born.

As time went on, I felt like something was different.  I’ve always been able to bond with babies but I couldn’t bond with A-L-E-X.  He didn’t respond to me and it was hard for me to connect.  He’d cry or become agitated.  His mom had a group called “Parents as Teachers” come in every so often.  She did this because she was a good mom and wanted to see how well he was developing.  It wasn’t because she felt something was wrong with him.  She knew he was different because he wouldn’t nurse like her other babies nursed.  He would hurt her and she couldn’t make him do it the right way, sometimes.  Other than that, he was just a little different.  Parents as Teachers immediately discovered that A-L-E-X was more than different.  There was something developmentally wrong.  They weren’t sure WHAT it was.  They suspected Autism but when they’d ask Dianna to have him be seen by a neurosurgeon, or a specialist, she’d STRONGLY reject.  She didn’t want something to be wrong with her baby.  Jerry had a different approach.  He always had the attitude that if something was wrong with his son, they’d get help and deal with it the best way they could.  In Dianna’s defense, she’d already had a son with Asperger’s Syndrome.  She’d already been through so much with Alex’s older brother.  She only wanted a perfect son and for the world to accept Alex as a normal, beautiful boy.  I felt so sad for her.  NOT because I felt like Alex was a problem.  But because I could see that she was struggling.  Eventually, Dianna didn’t want Parents as teachers to come into her home anymore because she felt like they were trying to force their opinion on her and that they were trying to label her son unjustly.  I think Denial is normal.

When Alex was 18 months, it couldn’t be denied anymore.  We ALL saw it.  Dianna was still in denial.  As he grew to be a toddler, he couldn’t speak.  She’d try SO hard to teach him but he just couldn’t.  He ran around the house and flapped his arms like a bird.  Sometimes, it looked as if his little arms would break right off his shoulders!  It became embarrassing for her when she’d bring him out in public.  She felt like she needed to explain his behavior to strangers, when they’d stare at him.  She tried to make him stop but she couldn’t.  He didn’t play like normal kids played.  He remained in his own little world and there’d be no room for other people in that world.  He’d become EXTREMELY agitated when noise happened.  Certain sounds made him scared or mad.  He especially didn’t like some little boys who made noise.  He’d put his hands over his ears and throw himself on the ground and scream when he was around his nephew (who was born the same year as Alex).  The activity that Alex enjoyed most was reading phone books or manuals.  He didn’t want us to touch his books either.  It was like Rainman, where words and numbers comforted him.

At this point, even Dianna couldn’t deny there was an issue.  She tried but she couldn’t.  We ALL tiptoed around the word “Autism” because she didn’t want that word spoken around her.  I’m not sure how I did it, but I was able to talk her into having a neuro surgeon look at Alex.  I went with her.  It was sad, but within the first few minutes of our visit, Alex was diagnosed with full blown Autism.  Dianna cried as she learned that her precious baby would have to be medicated and that he’d never be a normal kid or be able to live on his own one day. He wasn’t just SLIGHTLY Autistic, like we’d hoped.  He didn’t just have Aspergers Syndrome, like his older brother Josh.  He was a severe case on the Autism spectrum.  Dianna has struggle with the need for medication ever since.  He takes medication but not as prescribed and only when she feels like he needs it.  I can’t judge this because I haven’t walked in her shoes.  I struggled when my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD.  I couldn’t imagine her needing to be on medication for the rest of her life.

That was just a brief background.  His little life, to me, is interesting enough to have a book written about him.  In the interest of time, I’ll try to wrap this up.


(Here he is with singing with his Kindergarten class on his graduation day)


(I gave him a shovel to help me do my planting and he really tried)


(Alex is plugging his ears because he doesn’t like to be anywhere around his nephew Trevor)

Alex’s mom and dad have been divorced for a few years now.  Despite what people SEE, Autistic kids really DO have feelings.  He was attached to his daddy and his big yard and his big house.  When Dianna was forced to move him to a small apartment with NO yard, his little world crumbled.  Some aspects of his life are good now.  He’s able to fit in at school and has learned SO much.  He can talk and spell and he’s learned to express his emotions.  He’ll say “Happy” and then smile.  He’ll say “Sad” and then make a frowny face.  He’s learned to tell us what he wants, but we have to give him choices.  For example, I’ll say, “Do you want cereal?” and he’ll repeat the word “cereal”.  I’ll ask him, “would you like alphabet or cookie cereal?”.  He’ll tell me “cookie”.  Sometimes, he’ll spell what he wants.


(playing my piano when he was 5 years old)


(laying on the floor keeping time with the music)

Alex loves classical music.  His mom has been playing it for him since he was born.  He can go to my piano or a keyboard and play (in ANY key), Mozart or Beethoven.  He played “Ode to Joy” the other day and he’ll tell you what he’s playing.  He played it in all “sharps”.  He CAN play it in all flats.  I think he’ll be a musical genius.  Not just saying that.  He LOVES my house because I have a piano AND a keyboard.  It’s like heaven to him. Oh and he LOVES our little Beagle named DIxie!  She doesn’t love him, sometimes, but he’s gentle with her and loves to chase her and show her affection.


(Alex loving on Dixie with his big brother Josh, who has Aspergers)


(here he is playing with my tea cups.  He loves playing tea party and he never breaks the delicate china!)

He’s here now with us and has been since yesterday.  His Mommy has to work 12 hour shifts all weekend and his sister has her own baby and needs some time away from little Alex.  There would have been a day when he couldn’t have spent the night.  Separation anxiety would have been too strong for me to overcome because he didn’t like being away from his mom or dad.  NOW, Alex loves me.  He can’t stop hugging me or kissing me.  He wants me to hold him like a baby and he wants me to wrestle with him so I do.  He loves to play games, he just can’t follow rules.  He’s an absolute joy for me. I’d have him ALL the time, if my husband would allow it.  Hubby is getting to the point where he doesn’t like noise and wants peace and quiet.  Of our 5 kids, only 1 is still at home and he likes it that way.  I’m NOT there yet and miss my kids being around.  However, hubby never shows Alex that he doesn’t want him here.  In fact, right now, he’s going over to Dianna’s house to get Alex’s bicycle so we can take this boy outside and have some FUN!  He usually stays inside because there’s no place to play at his house anymore.  There’s ALL kinds of room over here and he’s flapping his arms in excitement and anticipation, just waiting for his bike to get here!


I wish he could tell me what’s inside his mind.  What does he think?  What does he feel?  I think it would blow me away if I could see the pictures in his little brain.

Aunt Arlene’s Easy Corn Souffle (as promised to Jessamine)

One of the awesome blogs I follow, Attempts in Domesticity (Trying to Emulate Martha Stewart in a Town Full of Hipsters), posted about some yummy corn and sausage griddle cakes.  I’d never thought of doing griddle cakes like this, have you?  Anyway, I gave her a “fun fact”, not that she asked!  lol  I told her that I make a yummy corn souffle and she asked for the link.  Ahhhh…. most of my recipes are family recipes and some of them come from my collection of a million cookbooks.  I collect cookbooks like I do shoes.

SO…  Jessamine, as promised, now that I’ve had a couple of cups of espresso on this beautiful Sunday morning, here’s our family’s recipe for corn souffle.  I know you’ll love it if you try it!  It’s something that I don’t usually make unless we’re having company OR it’s a holiday.  BUT, I think it would be good any day, and especially for Sunday dinner 🙂

(photo credit goes to

Aunt Arlene’s Easy Corn Souffle


1 small onion

1 green pepper

1 stick butter (use REAL butter)

1 can whole kernel corn

1 can cream style corn

1 box jiffy corn muffin mix

3 eggs, well beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


Saute onion and green pepper in butter.  Add corn, beaten eggs and corn muffin mix.  Stir well and pour into prepared baking dish.  Mix sour cream and grated cheese together, spoon over corn mixture.  Bake at 350 F for 35 -40 minutes.

So here it is.  Now go over and check out Jessamine’s blog!  I think the hook for me was the part where she’s trying to emulate Martha Stewart in a town full of hipsters!  TOO funny.

Tested, tried and STILL here…. Happy Anniversary Baby!

Yesterday, February 22, marked our 10th anniversary!  We didn’t think it was possible for EITHER of us to make it to 10 years.  Actually, we’ve been together for 12.  Like I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t our FIRST rodeo!  For me, I never seem to make it past the 7 year itch.  lol  I’m feeling accomplished and SO happy that I lived to see this day.

I wasn’t predicted to live another 6 months in 2008.  In fact, every year that passes, my team of doctors are amazed that I’m still here.  Now, with an upcoming intestine transplant, they’re giving me even less time.  Life is precious and we try to celebrate every chance we get.  The hubby wants SO BADLY to take me on another cruise before we undergo more medical procedures.  I’m not very sure that I’ll be able to go on a cruise because once you’re put on a transplant list, you have to stay close to home in order to wait for that call.  The call that tells you to jump on a plane and get there immediately.  We can’t get a call like that if we’re in another country or on the ocean.

For now we’ll celebrate close to home and with little things.Image

Note from Ben that says:  10 years!  Are you freaking KIDDING me?


I was not expecting more flowers!  He’d already given me 2 beautiful bouquets this month!  I have the most romantic husband in the world, I think.

Our wedding song turned out to be prophetic.  It makes me cry every time!

Love Is All by Marc Anthony

When you hold me like this
so many memories fill my eyes
the first time we kissed
the times we nearly said good-bye
but still here we are
tested and tried and still true
and stronger than we ever knew


Love is all
the laughter and the tears that fall
the mundane and the magical
love is all
all is love
the careless word, the healing touch
the getting and the giving of
all is love
there’s a me you’ve always known
the me that’s a stranger still
the you that feels like home
and the you that never will
but still here we lie
tender and trusting and true
with everything that we’ve been through

Repeat Chorus

All the glory
all the pain
all the passion
that turns to ashes
only to rise again

Love is all
the laughter and the tears that fall
the mundane and the miracle
love is all
all is love
the careless word, the healing touch
the getting and the giving of
all is love

True Believer (Nicholas Sparks)…Julia’s reading project, a book review

After reading 1984, and 3 other books that I’ve chosen for her, it was time to let Julia choose her own book.  She’s been bribed (paid $25 so far) to read the 4 books that I’ve had her read.  To date, she’s only liked 1 of those books.  I’m a little sad about this BUT the main thing is that she’s LEARNED and opened her mind to different subjects.  MUCH discussion about exploited women and children (Half the Sky), in fact, we’re STILL talking about that, even though she had a hard time getting through the book.  She’s developed more empathy for the early struggles of African American men, women and children after reading Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.  After reading Call of the Wild, Julia gave a little thought to treating our pets even better than she already did because she saw through the eyes of a dog.  1984 made her open her eyes to what’s going on in America RIGHT NOW, even though she REALLY didn’t like the book.  That’s the idea, right?

Well, as promised, it was time to allow her to choose her own reading material.  I didn’t want to lose her and even though I’m PAYING her for each book report, I want her to enjoy reading.

Here’s what she choose:

True Believer by Nicholas Sparks (Time Warner Book Group) 318 pages

Description from the inside sleeve:

“One day you’re going to love something that can’t be explained with science.  And when that happens, your life’s going to change in ways you can’t imagine…”

Jeremy Marsh is the ultimate New Yorker:  handsome, almost always dressed in black, and part of the media elite.  An expert on debunking the supernatural with a regular column in Scientific American, he’s made his first appearance on national TV.  When he receives a letter from the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, about ghostly lights that appear in a legend-shrouded cemetery, he can’t resist driving down to investigate.

Here in this tightly knit community, Lexie Darnell runs the towns library, just as her mother did before the accident left Lexie an orphan.  Disappointed by past relationships, including one that lured her away from home, she is sure of one thing:  her future is in Boone Creek, close to her grandmother and all the people she loves.

Jeremy expects to spend a quick week in “the sticks” before speeding back to the city.  But from the moment he sets eyes on Lexie, he is intrigued and attracted to this beautiful woman who speaks with a soft drawl and confounding honesty.  And Lexie, while hesitating to trust this outsider, finds herself thinking of Jeremy more times than she cares to admit.

Now, if they are to be together, Jeremy Marsh must make a difficult choice:  return to the life he knows, or do something he’s never done before-take a giant leap of faith.

A story about taking chances and following your heart.  True Believer will make you too believe in the miracle of love.

Ok, here’s what Julia thought of Mr. Sparks book:  She didn’t like it!  lol  He’s her favorite author and I expected that she would fall for the romance, once again, like in ALL the Nicholas Spark books.  Not so much and I’m encouraged about the mind of THIS 14 year old!  lol

In the last paragraph of Julia’s book report she tells me:

“I didn’t like this book as much as I did the other Nicholas Sparks books because there was nothing special about it.  It was a traditional love story and VERY predictable!  Girl had been hurt in previous relationships.  Boy was opposite of what girl was used to and was willing to do anything to make things work between them.  Honestly, I was bored.”

And I owe her $5!  lol  I wonder what  kind of book she choose for herself NEXT time?  I’m encouraged that she didn’t fall for the typical love story.  I’m still thinking about which book I’ll choose for her now that she’s done with this one 😉