Day 168: miss congeniality

Every morning, I have a routine. Husband wakes up, showers, then comes to wake me up. I groggily oblige, grab my phone and start mindlessly scrolling to get my eyes and mind to wake up. I almost always start with my “On this day” section. I enjoy looking at the cool things I did or accomplished. It reminds me of how hard I have worked to get to where I am today. Granted, there are also some unpleasant reminders in there BUT they, too, are examples of things I have overcome. I still stand.

It’s a good, healthy, reminder that I’ve made it through a lot and accomplished a lot and I’m still here. It shows me that I can make it through damn near anything the future throws at me, so I should calm my ass down and not have so much anxiety.

Should is the key word there, should.

As I was scrolling this morning, I came across a post I made three years ago after I won Miss Congeniality at the North American Pole Dance Championships. It brought me back to that weekend… All of the laughs backstage with the girls and having a darling doll from Iowa later recall me as Kneepad Nina. Meeting Bunni for the first time and telling her, “I don’t know who you are, but I have a feeling you’re going to be amazing.” Then she won our division and has gone on to do AMAZING things. And she is sweet as pie, to boot. The smell of the fake Bourbon street. Giving an unknown bachelorette a pretty wild surprise at her party. Spilling a table of drinks because I was dancing on it. Meeting a group of doctoral candidate physicists from across the pond and talking about molecular science by the bonfire until the wee hours of the morning. Partying, maybe, a little too much… Nah. Every single second was worth it. I was living and it felt great.

I remember being completely exhausted by the end of the weekend. It came time for the ceremonies and everyone was asking, “You’re going to be there, right??” I kept saying, “yeah, dude, I’ll be there but then I’ll leave right after ’cause I’m tired.” I just remember continually being urged to stay for the ceremonies… which, really, I wasn’t going to miss anyway – how can I cheer for my friends if I’m not there?

So I groggily woman-ed the NAPDC table for a little while and the ceremonies began. I was sitting with my friend Stef at the time excitedly chattering about the weekend and the awards. Award after award, we would excitedly cheer for our fellow pole buddies and scream congrats, jump hug, etc. Awards are always a good time. Then it came time for Miss Congeniality. I think I was cracking a joke as she announced my name. Stef looked at me and shouted, “OH MY GOD! THAT’S YOU! YOU WON!” It took a second to sink in then I ran to the stage in excitement.

People liked me! Well, they STILL like me. I definitely was NOT expecting it. I don’t think people ever expect an award for being themselves, you know?

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Over the years, that gorgeous Glitter Heel has served as a reminder of who I am and what I am about. The past few years I have been faced with a tremendously overwhelming amount of negativity. I began to lose my light. I wasn’t happy and bouncy and silly and giggly. I wasn’t climbing random things, trying to fit in to small spaces, or just being goofy. My fire was being slowly suffocated.

It almost went out March 1st.

BUT I am stronger than that. My spark wasn’t going to be snuffed out by the darkness of others. It seems like another lifetime, but it was only a few months ago. Isn’t that crazy? Things change so much in so little time so long as you are brave enough to take those steps. It’s terrifying, but it’s so worth it. What’s the saying? When you have two choices, go with the one that scares you the most because that’s the one that will help you grow? Something like that. Or if it terrifies you, definitely do it? You get what I’m saying. Fear, terror, and anxiety are good things – to a point, of course. They can be healthy.

I woke up in terror on March 1st.

I was terrified for my self. I was terrified for my sanity. I was terrified for my body. I’m glad I made the decisions I did. I’m glad I took myself to the doctor. I’m still convinced that had I not done it myself, I would have been taken by someone else a short while later. It makes a difference.

March 1st was a new day.

Since then, I have become so. much. happier. I love working at the bakery. It’s good for my soul. I’m going to start practicing ABA soon and that’s exciting (I’ll update on this shortly). I have my bachelorette party this weekend, my BCBA exam on Monday, our wedding shower next weekend, and the wedding in October with all kinds of shenanigans in between. It’s a good time to be alive. Well, EVERY time is a good time to be alive.

I know that it really doesn’t seem like it sometimes. Sometimes you just want to be like FUCK THIS. FUCK THAT. FUCK ALL OF YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBORS. I’M OUT. Totally get it. But if you stick through it? Life is so rewarding. If you make those tough choices, happiness IS there and it DOES exist. Shit happens. Plans change. Road blocks happen. But if you keep working and you keep making decisions with your goals in mind you will get there… maybe not the way you had initially anticipated, but it happens.

I thought FOR SURE that by the time I was 30 I would be in a house, I would have a PhD, I would be traveling the world, I’d be super skinny, life would be GRAND. Well. Here I am at 33, in a basement BUT working towards a house (with a realistic end in sight), with a Master’s (no PhD at this time *by choice*) and *almost* a bad ass board certification, traveling the country, a little extra curvy, happily married for the second time, raising two au-some kids and life is GRAND. Why? Because I’m living.

All good things.

Just a quick update on the whole second job ABA thing: I met with my new boss yesterday to develop a plan in regards to submitting a new plan for approval. I feel pretty good about it. Hopefully by the end of September I’ll be approved by the state and level up because I’ll officially be a BCBA. Boy Child said to me this morning, “Mommy, I hope you pass your exam. I would tell Ms. D (their summer care provider) that ‘if Mommy passes the exam’ and she would stop me and say ‘WHEN your Mommy passes the exam, she is a smart lady.’ I think you’ll do it, Mommy.” Almost made me cry. My new boss thinks I’ll pass too. So does everybody else. I keep reviewing. I’ve been giving my brain a bit of a break this week. I didn’t want to cram all week then get to test day and just blank on everything. Four more days. Oof.

I can do it. I *will* do it. I just need to trust my brain to know what it knows and not second guess. When I second guess, I lose. I’ll brain dump a subject as it comes up and check against my knowledge. I know what I know. I should be just fine. I’ll probably get the nervous poops, but that’s ok ; D

Anywho. If you need a smile today, watch my competition routine from 2014. I decided to just go out there and have fun. It’s not technical. It’s not clean. It’s not difficult. But it’s fun and should make you laugh. Enjoy ; )

 

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

 

Day 164: laying it all out there

My anxiety is reaching maximum capacity.

When other people are angry, irritated, loud, I stay calm and quiet. While I’m good at it, it eventually takes it’s toll. It makes me tired and sad. I don’t bounce back quickly or easily. I understand people’s anger and/or frustration most of the time and it does no good to retaliate. So I stay calm.

My BIP was rejected by the state because my client was too high functioning. While understandable, it’s a set back. It’s another couple of weeks before forward movement. I was really hoping to get started working for the extra income for the new house, but now I’m anticipating starting after the wedding.

Husband has it set in his mind that the down payment money is going to magically appear after the wedding. Which, realistically, it won’t. Even if it did, we need the additional income to afford the house. It’s not like he is looking for anything different, so this work would be great.

My sister is coming up for labor day weekend which will be nice. However. She made a comment about she and her husband being “two broke folk from Tennessee.” I wanted to break my Mom’s phone. Please, do go on about how broke you are being a double income, no kid household with two dogs, a big house and a new RV…. while we are a family of 4 living with my mom in her basement with no yard and saving whatever pennies we have left over to try and save for a house. But, continue, please, about how “broke” you are.

Husband has been irritated about absolutely everything today. Girl Child hasn’t been the greatest and has been irritating every one today. It got to the point where everyone was getting super agitate, including GC. I ran a bubble bath, filled a big bowl full with her duckies and let her go to town.

As I was typing, Husband apologized for being a butt earlier. Then Doods threw a battery at him. *sigh* Now she is helping throw laundry down the chute. Lord, help us.

For my next act, trying to get dinner ready while Kevin is out grilling and GC tries to beat up BC. Good. Every day is an adventure. Ugh.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

 

Day 162: let me elaborate

Yesterday, I had said that we went to Six Flags Great America with the kids on Monday. I wanted to talk a little more about this. So, both of my children are on the Autism spectrum…. complete opposite ends of the Autism spectrum.

Boy Child does pretty well with waiting, lines and some day to day stuff. He’s a super smart kid and has come A LONG way in his skill set. He really lacks in regulating his emotions, social relationships, and independent daily living skills (he can barely make himself a sandwich).

Girl Child is pretty much awful when it comes to waiting in line. When she is done with something, she starts to giggle, scream, hit, and run. She, too, has come a LONG way in her skill set. However, I’m always hyperaware of their areas of opportunity so I’m constantly trying to work on those things.

Anyway – Great America.

If you’ve ever been to an amusement park, you know that waiting in line for a ride can vary from 30-90 minutes plus. Considering how awesome Girl Child is at waiting, I did my research before we went. Six Flags GA offers an Attraction Access Pass for people with special needs. It’s super cool! We’re REALLY glad we did this. We tried waiting in line for one ride when we got there (the wait was only 15 minutes) and as soon as we got in line, Doods started to act out so we jumped ship and decided to use our pass.

What the pass does is it removes the waiting in line part. There is a designated wait time on your pass (which is the average wait time for rides that day at the park). For us, it was 30 minutes. We went on a ride at 1145am. We couldn’t go on the next ride until 1215p. During that half hour, we could roam the park, go on carnival rides, play at the arcade, eat – whatever. Once that half hour elapsed, we would go to our designated area for the ride of our choice and climb aboard. No line! It was so great!

We didn’t experience any hitting, dropping to the ground, screaming, eloping – nothing! The access pass was greatly appreciated and definitely was a huge asset to help make our trip a success. Thanks GA!

In other news…

I have been having strange and unpleasant dreams this whole week. I’ve been sleeping, which is nice – but it’s been full of weirdness. When I wake up, I feel tired and off. I try to shake it off and get on with my morning routine. Usually forcing my kids to love me in the morning helps too ; ) So does coffee. Coffee almost always wins that game.

I have insurance again, which is nice. The not nice part is now that it’s being taken out of Handsome Husband’s work check, we can’t really save those dollars for the house. ; ( Road block.

I’m still waiting to get approved by the state as a provider. Road Block. I knew at the outset this could easily take 3-6 weeks because Illinois is an AMAZING state. It’d be really great if that approval could come soon so I could start working. We could really use those dollars. Especially with the wedding party coming up and this whole insurance thing.

The countdown to the BCBA is getting real. 10 more days. The anxiety is real. I study at every opportunity I get and I still feel like it’s not enough. My program, in retrospect, wasn’t that great and didn’t really prepare us like it should have. I did, however, have a wonderful and supportive supervisor for my practicum. She was an absolute blessing in my life. Not only did she support me throughout my BCBA practicum, but she was a mentor for my life. I was having a really rough go with work and she was a light in the dark. I’m very grateful for her.

My goal is to get this work project done today so it can get presented tomorrow at our company meeting. I should be able to achieve that, depending on the flow of store traffic and cake production. I didn’t take any pictures yesterday and I feel bad about it. We actually had someone call and ask if we took any pictures because there was an incident with their cake during transit. I felt so bad. I love taking pictures of the cakes – doesn’t matter how extravagant or mundane they may seem. Each cake has meaning to someone. While it may not be much to us – it can be the world to another person. I love when people come in to order a cake, look through the iPad and go, “Oh my god! That’s my cake!!” That moment of joy is absolutely worth it.

Allright, I need to get back to studying and drinking this coffee before I head out to work.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 161: radio silence

Hello interwebs friends!

Worry not, I still exist and everything is going well. I’ve been super busy over the past week and a half which has pulled me away from blogging. This is totally ok – I’ve been out and about living life relatively unplugged.

So, let’s see, where to begin…

Last thing I wrote about was going to the zoo. Since then, I had my last two study group sessions and boooyyy were they doozies! We worked our BUTTS off in those sessions! Not to say we haven’t been working our butts off all summer, however with it being the final push before the other three took their exam we really made every minute count. Our final study session was a seven hour marathon and, honestly? It was wonderful. There’s only certain groups of people you can be around, by choice, all day and STILL want to hang out with them. These ladies are those types of people.

I was finally able to give them their gifts at Tuesday’s session so now I can tell you about them! We’re all hyper organized, super type A, and LOVE color coding things. I got each of them a new set of colored pens, super cute notebooks that said things like “Boss Lady”, “Madame President”, and “Goal Digger” (that one’s my favorite XD), and a cup that played on the Premack principle – it said “First I drink the coffee, Then I do the things.”

Okay, TIME OUT.

So for my non-ABA friends, let me tell ya what the Premack Principle is. Essentially it’s the Mom Rule: FIRST do your homework, THEN play video games. You’ve heard something like that growing up, right? First do your chore, then do the fun thing. You’re using something preferred to reinforce something not preferred. In ABA Land, we call non-preferred (or unlikely) behaviors low-p (low probability – meaning it’s not super likely to happen) and preferred (or likely) behaviors high-p (high probability – meaning it’s most likely to happen). The Premack Principle is using a high-p behavior to reinforce a low-p behavior. Now you can feel fancy as you’re parenting ; )

Okay, TIME IN.

The ladies absolutely LOVED their gifts! The play on Premack cup was an absolute hit! (side note: the cup was a play on Premack because drinking coffee is a high-p behavior and doing the things is, generally, a low-p behavior and now, as we know, Premack is low-p followed by high-p ; D ya’ll go and do that ABA!) One of the ladies brought farm fresh eggs and tomatoes, too! I had never had farm fresh eggs and MAN they were AMAZING.

Of course I didn’t eat the egg raw in the middle of the Starbucks. I waited until the weekend. Handsome husband made eggs to nurse our mutual hangovers from his brother’s wedding ; D

Speaking of which: that Friday my brother-in-law got married! YAY! It only took a decade but, dammit, he did the thing. I couldn’t be happier for them. I absolutely love having him as my BIL and I’m super stoked about my new SIL. She and I have known each other since we were kids, so it’s wonderful to actually have her as family now.

She was absolutely GORGEOUS. Her dress, hair, make up – everything was perfect. She was just beautiful and beaming.

My favorite part of weddings is seeing the groom’s reaction to seeing the bride. Something about that raw, pure emotion gets me every time. When I got married the first time, my previous spouse was stone faced and pale. Maybe that’s why I really like seeing other people – I didn’t have that emotion shown for me, so I love seeing it with others. That and I just really love love. Love is a many splendid thing, you know.

I loved seeing Kevin’s face when we got married. Both of us had the biggest smiles on our faces. We both said our faces hurt at the end of the day because we were so happy and could not stop smiling. Just looking at each other, smiling, beyond elated to start the next part of our journey together – it’s one of the greatest moments I have had in my life thus far. I can’t wait to see his face at our wedding party. It’ll probably be good. He’s got a good face – my favorite of faces, actually. Probably why I married him.

I digress.

The wedding and reception were awesome ; )

The next day we went on a float trip with a group of our nearest and dearest to celebrate some birthdays! I have never been on a float trip before and it was so great. The weather was absolutely perfect. Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to just float down the river. Granted, I ran in to a few trees, but overall it was a great time. The float trip taught me that Kevin is terrible at navigating in a river. Rather, he’s great at getting himself out of harm’s way but noottt necessarily others… namely, me. He DOES, however, make a great tugboat.

Sunday was my birthday and I had to work. It was fun though – they set up a birthday meme scavenger hunt of sorts for me lol See, every Friday is Feel Good Friday. I generally have some sort of theme, find obnoxious memes and go around to everyone. It was a really fitting birthday tribute. The work day went super well without any major issue and we got out relatively quickly after close.

Monday we had a family fun day at Six Flags Great America! It was the first time either of the kids had gone to GA, so we only had ideas as to how it would go. We pretty much nailed it: Girl Child had a BLAST. She was a CHAMP. She went on the big rollercoasters and was pulling us around the park. However, when she was done, she looked at us and said, “all done, let’s go!” We greatly appreciated her words and honored her request, so we boogied on home.

Boy Child, conversely, rode NOTHING. Okay, I lied, he rode ONE carnival ride. He rode that big Viking ship that swings back and forth. He screamed the ENTIRE TIME. It actually made people really angry. Welp, now we know. We may try to take him again in the future. We told him we were disappointed that he didn’t even TRY a rollercoaster. We said it’s okay to not like something, but you have to TRY it first to know that you don’t. So we will see how that pans out.

Let’s see, what else…. Yesterday was registration day for Dood’s so I got her all signed up and ready to go. Got to see her previous principal and show her some pictures and videos. It’s always nice to keep in touch with the people who have played such major roles in Girl Child’s development. They’re all so wonderful and we have been truly blessed.

After registration was taken care of, we came home to have my belated birthday celebration! The kids were with their Dad this past weekend, so we decided to celebrate that day since we’d all be home. Kevin made this super good taco pasta bake and I brought the cake!

Okay, guys, this cake though. Lemme tell ya’ll ’bout. THIS. CAKE.

I ordered my birthday cake a few weeks ago and told me co-workers to surprise me. I put in the flavors and said go nuts! It’s my birthday! They did a tremendous job of hiding the cake from me. Seriously. There was one moment where I had to walk to the back for pricing and one of the decorators happened to be working on my cake. She put up a piece of paper so I couldn’t see it. It took me a second and I was like OOHHHH!!! THAT’S FOR MEEEE ; DDD

I get a *little* excited about cakes sometimes.

Anyway. It got to the end of my shift and one of the decorators says, “Wait wait wait! I need to get your cake!!” So I waited, she came out, I saw the cake and just DIED. I laughed so hard. There is not a more Melinda-y cake ever to have existed in the history of cakes.

Birthday 2017

Isn’t this the greatest? It’s got Legos, Hello Kitty, pole dancing, dope, candles, books, candles, glitter, stars, ME – what’s NOT to love about this cake?!?!?! They found the absolute best picture for that cut out, too. So good. I’m laughing just looking at the picture. It’s so good. I just wanted to walk around showing everyone my awesome birthday cake. You can’t look at it and NOT smile or laugh, for one reason or another. They nailed it. It’s such a happy cake. The cake itself was two layers of white cake with lemon mousse and a thin layer of raspberry preserves covered in lemon flavored buttercream. The flavor profile was a huge hit with the whole fam!

Makes me super excited for my bachelorette party cake that’s coming up. No, it’s not a penis. It IS, however, super classy and fun. Hold on to your butts for that one. I had a lot of fun designing it and I know the ladies will knock it out of the park.

This was a super long post! I guess when you have, say, ten days of life to catch up on it makes sense ; D

I will say, though, that while everything has been going really well, I did have a day yesterday. I had some…. not so great dreams the night before and woke up feeling not so great. It was a little difficult to kind regulate throughout the day until it got towards the evening.

Oh! Wanna hear something neat? Of course you do. So I had to do this project at work – coding thousands of photos. I got it done! Woo! And in not a lot of time either – double woo! Yesterday, my boss thanked me for getting the project done in an unexpected and greatly appreciated way. She also gave me a book called 1001 ways to reward employees and asked me to come up with a game to increase our repeat rewards. I asked her some questions about specifics, then clearly spaced out to ABA Land. In my head I was going “Okay, an interdependent group contingency. Need to determine an EO for the MO and levels of reinforcement.” When I came back to reality, I said sorry, I was just going through things in my head. She had a big smile on her face and said, “It’s ok. I figured you were doing whatever nerd things you needed to do, so I just waited till you were done. This is your project, have fun!” I laughed. Nerd things. True. ; ) I’m so glad they understand, accept and support my intense nerddom.

I hope ya’ll are doing well.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 151: there be dragons

Hello interwebs friends! I hope everyone is doing well today.

I didn’t have a great night’s sleep last night, so I’m dragging a little bit. I woke up yesterday and felt sad for no immediately apparent reason. My wonderful husband thinks it’s just all the stress from preparing for the BCBA exam and everything. Very possibly.

I’ve been able to go out and spend some time with friends lately, which is nice. Kevin is super understanding and almost kicks me out the door sometimes to go be social. I actually really appreciate it. Otherwise, I would be stuck in my hermit study-like state. This weekend is a big social weekend – we have Kevin’s brother’s wedding (Woo! I still have no idea what I’m going to wear), a pre-birthday float trip (which will include studying in the car), working on my actual birthday, and Great America with the kids on Monday (which will also include studying in the car). I’ve got my last two study group sessions this week on tomorrow and Thursday. Then my lovely groupmates take the exam on either the 7th or 8th, while I’ll have another two weeks before I take the exam on the 21st.

Oof.

I’ve really enjoyed study group. The ladies are so wonderful, positive, passionate and intelligent. I’ll miss seeing them every week, for sure. Hopefully we can still get together once a month or so to catch up and talk shop.

I’ve been spending a lot of time this past week making ABA “Quick Sheets” for our group. We are all super visual people so I’ve been trying to put the information/concepts out there in a visual way that will make it easier to digest and remember. It’s been fun! In a way, it kinda makes me want a Mac. Doing graphic stuff is SO much easier on a Mac than a PC. Thank you, work! ; ) However, I’ve been making do with Google Draw which is a super neat little program to do basic graphic stuff on.

By spending time with my nearest and dearest lately, I’ve been reminded of eevverrryytthiiinngg that’s left to do for the wedding… which I’m not going to really think about until AFTER the exam. Then it’s a really big push to get everything done by party time. However, we have my bachelorette party and the wedding shower I have to think about. Bachelorette Party is the weekend right before the exam (I have to order my cake for this tomorrow) and the Wedding Shower is the week after the exam (gotta make peach cobblah and order some tasty pastries for that one). I have to talk to my super awesome friend about the invitations ’cause those will need to get sent out in September… which means I need to hammer down times and start developing the itinerary.

OY.

Already, the anxiety!

Anyway. Kevin has been super wonderful (as always) over the past week. I hurt my foot somehow and he’s been an absolute doll. When I come home, he knows I need to study and my foot hurts, so he is at the ready to make dinner and hand over some IBU Profen. He’s a wonderful man.

In other news, we went to the park the other day…. the new equipment is really great! The crowd still sucks though. It re-emphasized how ready I am to have a CLEAN backyard. You know, one without broken glass or used condoms or punk ass kids dropping N-bombs in front of small children. That’ll be real swell. Gimme that half acre, a fence and a giant ass trampoline and we are GOOD.

God willing, we will be spending Christmas at the new house. It can’t come soon enough.

Yesterday we went to the zoo and saw the dino exhibit. It was super fun! Girl child was NOT a fan of the T-Rex, though. She also wasn’t a fan of the seagulls when we were checking out the penguins. Boy child, for whatever reason, was SO. FUCKING. OBNOXIOUS. ALL. DAY. As soon as we got there he started asking about lunch. It was 945 am, friends. All morning: What time is it? Is it time for lunch? I think it’s time to eat.

CHILD, I WILL SPARTA KICK YOU IN THE CHEST IF YOU DON’T STOP ASKING ABOUT LUNCH.

We eventually got lunch at, you know, LUNCHTIME and then he changed to: I miss Gamma and Pepper.

BOY CHILD, IT HAS BEEN THREE HOURS. THREEEEEE HHOUUUURRRSSS since we have been home. SWEET MOTHER OF CHRIST.

UUUUUGGGGGHHHH.

Children. They’re lovely. Really. Have eight. You’ll love it.

Honestly, it could have been worse. We have had much much MUCH worse adventures. Comparatively to the past, this would be considered a tremendous success. That may explain why I was so easily irritated yesterday with his behavior. They have both been doing so great on adventures that this one stuck out like a sore thumb.

Today we are back to normal. Girl child’s hanging out in her jammies watching VeggieTales, Boy child’s in his jammies playing legos, and I’m in my jammies typing this entry and studying. Ah, life.

OH! Another thing that happened! A customer said a nice thing about me on our facebook page! Isn’t that neat? That’s so neat. One of my co-workers shared the post in our group and I went AH! I DESIGNED THAT CAKE!…. AH! That’s ME they’re talking about! NEAT!

If I didn’t say it…. I think it’s pretty neat ; 3

Allright, I need to get back to generating quick sheets, studying, and drinking more coffee. Before I go, here’s a picture of us escaping a dragon at the zoo:

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Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 144: when worlds collide

Quite a bit has transpired over the past few days, so I’ll do my best to recollect and share.

Saturday was a really interesting day. Kevin had his non-bachelor shared Bachelor Party with his brother that day, so he and I didn’t do much talking until the next morning when he so wonderfully informed me that he was, indeed, alive and functioning as a human person. Those kinds of messages are always appreciated, particularly when the person in question is out for an evening of maleficence and debauchery…. well earned and deserved maleficence and debauchery, BUT maleficence and debauchery nonetheless.

Saturday was interesting. Work is typically interesting what with some of the characters and interesting orders we have come through the building, but it had a few… moments… that made it a lil’ extra.

As we know, I make some pretty dope cookies and Saturday was a freshly baked delivery day at the bakery. Now, my bosses are pretty fuckin’ cool, let me tell you what. They really are. So I was making my rounds and I had a trade off with another employee – a cookie today for a brownie in his next batch. Pretty solid deal, right? So, I walk past him and put a cookie in front of him and he starts laughing and says, “Thank you!” I said, “you’re welcome! Don’t eat it now, eat it at home.” No sooner than I turned my back, what did he do? Oh, you know he did – he ate that cookie in one fell swoop. Now, I didn’t find out about this till later but apparently, here’s what happened:

He was doing his work and about, oh, twenty minutes after eating it, he says to the pastry chefs, “I don’t feel anything. I don’t think it’s woorrrkkingg.” As soon as the last word came out of his mouth, the fun hit. Soon after, he crouched down behind the fridge, scared our dishwater and proceeded to laugh until tears for the next twenty minutes. Here’s a grown ass man, crouched down in TEARS, laughing at how he just scared the dishwasher. Good. That made my day.

Beyond that, I was sitting at my station working when all of a sudden I hear my name. I turn to look and it’s a lady I used to work with at my old job. She’s an absolutely lovely person and a fantastic advocate; it was wonderful to see her. It’s also pretty neat that our wedding days are literally a day a part ; ) Anywho. We played catch up, found out that even more people left, more people aren’t hired and people are swiftly approaching burn out. It made me sad to hear that, but really glad that I made my choices.

She and I wrapped up our conversation, said our goodbyes and went our merry ways.

A little while later I was hobbling out of the back (because apparently I don’t know how to walk in a park and sprained my toe a few days ago) and I see my new boss and her two daughters hanging out. She’s a super great lady, so it was really nice to see and speak with her for a little while. We talked about the exam, how you have to immerse yourself in the world right before you take it then you can relax and how she believes I will do just fine. Phew. She said I should get myself a cake just for taking the exam, hah! It’s not such a bad idea…

So she and I wrapped up our conversation, said our goodbyes and went our merry ways.

It was getting close to closing time and I was helping a customer when another person walked up to the counter and signed in. After a moment, the lady in waiting said, “Who can I talk to about ordering a cake?” I said that would be me and I’ll be with you in just a moment. As I wrapped up with the customer, she came walking around from behind her, very slowly, with a crinkled-nose “I know you” face…. I looked at her, smiled and said, “I know you.” She said a word and I went, “Yup! I used to work with you at my old job!” Then we proceeded to catch up. She said “I was wondering what happened to you! I was wondering why I hadn’t heard from you in a while!” I told her what had happened and what I’m doing now. She said, “You know, I don’t blame you – I’m looking to get out, myself. You were just so good at what you did – really. You are such a fierce advocate and did so much good for everybody, it’s a shame they didn’t support you enough. But, you know, I KNOW you will be so great in this new position. You will be amazing and help so many people. I’m so happy for you. Hopefully, you’ll be working with some of my guys because then I know they’re in good hands.”

Close the book. Bye.

The amount of unsolicited validation that has come to me since I’ve been at the bakery has been tremendous. I almost can’t handle it. I put so much of my self in to what I did and I know I was so damned good at it. I made things happen for people. GOOD things. NECESSARY things.

I still do and still will but this time? It’s going to be on MY terms. I still have to worry about the bureaucratic bullshit – that just comes with the territory… and living in Illinois. But it’ll be in a different way – a much more manageable way, a significantly less stressful way. I can do that.

On my way home from work, I stopped at Target because I had to get some things. Maybe that was Friday. Friday I stopped at Target to get somethings and as I was walking through, I saw somethings that I absolutely had to get for the ladies in my study group. They have been working so freaking hard this summer and I am beyond proud of how much knowledge they have gained, it has to be celebrated. So I will. I know they read this, so I can’t say what exactly but I’ll tell you after tomorrow ; ))) Let’s just say, the behavior analyst in me lost it’s G-D mind in the middle of Target, by myself.

Anywho.

Saturday night I had dinner with my Mom, which was really nice. We had a FFFAAABBUUULLOOOUSSS waiter. He kept calling us “love bugs” and “boo boo.” I was giggling even without the assistance of cheap sangria coming my way. We had a really nice time, then headed home to a wonderful pup.

We have been leaving Pepper uncrated for longer periods of time and she has been doing FAN-FREAKING-TASTICALLY. We are super proud of her. Ideally, we’d like to not crate her at all while we’re gone for the day. I think we could actually get there.

Sunday was a lovely day, too. I woke up and my toe was throbbing, so I knew we weren’t really going to be friends all day. So I remained hobble-mchobbleston all day. But that’s okay, I worked with some amazing people who were super awesome when it came to closing time. Now, I don’t know about some others, but I love to work and I also like to GTFO at closing time. Sundays are more intense than other closing days because it means a whole lot of cleaning and handling all of the waste products from the week. Usually it means we are there till at LEAST 430/445. Well, guys, let me tell you. With this ballin’ ass team I had on Sunday? We were all packed up and ready to roll by 415. We closed at 4. All I had to do was close the drawers. They knew I was hurtin’ from not knowing how to walk like a normal person, so they took care of everything else. I couldn’t thank them enough.

Teamwork, y’all. When you help others, it comes back to you. Shit, just be NICE to others and it will come back to you. I really do like and appreciate all the people I work with.

Hey, I even got to practice writing on cakes again! It’s been a few years, but a little bit of practice and I’ll be back at it like nothin’ ever happened.

Of course, I can’t forget to talk about the Marble Maze cake. I know I’ve mentioned it at least one other time – but I took this order about a month back for a Marble Maze cake for a boy with Autism. Well, they came to pick up yesterday and it brought the Mom to tears. Which then brought me to tears. I couldn’t be happier that they liked it. I really hope they send us pictures or video of him with his cake. After all the set up, here is Marble Maze cake:

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Pretty fuckin’ cool, right? It actually works, too. We did allllll kinds of test runs with this thing to make sure that by the time it got to him, he would be able to do what he loves best – play marble maze on his birthday. ; )

This is why I love what I do.

Today was just a chill day. I put the finishing touches on my FBA/BIP to submit to the state so I can become an approved provider with my new company and hung out with my kids – cuddles and Lego Marvel Avengers (super excited for the new one to come out!). Now it’s time to make some burgers for dinner so that when my handsome husband comes home, all he has to do is grill ’em up.

I hope ya’ll are doing well!

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 140: on the up and up

Good things happen to those who wait… and work their ass off.

True story.

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you guys that I got hired by an ABA company? That’s still happening. It takes a little while because of paperwork, getting approved by the state, so on and so forth, but the start day is near. I recently got an email with what my pay rate will be and my jaw literally dropped. I will be over doubling my income in half the amount of hours doing what I love.

I will work at the bakery and do ABA and live a comfortable life.

Like… on my drive to pick up the kids after work yesterday, I started to tear up. I thought about the new house, I thought about the updates we need/want to do, I thought about decorating, I thought about vacations! VACATIONS!! We will be able to afford vacations!!! You guys, vacations.

We won’t have to be strapped or paycheck to paycheck. We can breathe. That is so amazing. It’s a position in life that I’ve dreamed about for YEARS. Living modestly and comfortably with the ability to travel and experience life/the world… Oh man. The future is looking pretty good.

Of course, we still need to get the down payment together for November. It’s just nice to know that once we are IN the house, we won’t have to worry about what needs to be done TO the house – that we will be able to take care of it, essentially, without worry.

Yesterday at the bakery was a good day. The day before was pretty great too. I went home sick on Saturday because I had a resurgence of the plague. I was super bummed because I really wanted to see the finished product of this Wheel of Fortune cake.

TIME OUT.

Did I tell you guys about the WOF cake? In short: I was kind of obsessing over this WOF cake. There was something about it that kept calling to me. After a few days of doing some CSI, a decorator said, “You have a sixth sense… that cake? Is for a boy with Autism.”

TIME IN.

Part of my job at the bakery is to take pictures of our cakes, edit and post them on our Flickr. I *love* this part of my job! Anywho, I was super stoked about this WOF cake, but I had to go home and miss it. I was super bummed. I came in on Tuesday and my boss gave me the nicest compliment and said, “By the way, I took a picture of that WOF cake for you – I know you had a thing about it.” I was blown away by her thoughtfulness and kindness. It meant so much.

Yesterday was a really great day, too. I took a cake order about a month ago for birthday cake. Of course, it’s not just ANY birthday cake, it’s a birthday cake for a boy with Autism. This little boy LOVES to do marble mazes – like the Mouse Trap kind. His parents brought in this really neat design that involved wrapping the pieces around the cake and, me being me, I said, “Yeah, we can do that!”

I told the decorator who was assigned the cake, that I would help out with putting the pieces together. So, I grabbed the big ol’ grocery bag of pieces, laid them out on some tables, nabbed the dummy cakes and started at it. As my co-workers would walk by, they would stop and play and put things together which was AWESOME. It turned in to like a whole bakery project. Literally, sales, café, our chef, a pastry chef, decorators – just about everyone got involved in the process. It was so awesome to see everyone get involved in this cake for this boy. I know it will bring him so much joy. We all had fun putting the marble in the top and watching it wind down and around the cake. We *know* it will be wonderful for him ; ) It will wrap around and the marble will land on a cupcake at the very end. I’ll be sure to post a picture or video when it’s done.

I just really love that people voluntarily helped with this cake. I was planning on taking a better part of a day to get it figured out. With everyone’s help? Less than two hours. Teamwork is amazing. And greatly appreciated.

Speaking of teamwork, another awesome thing that happened on Tuesday was at my study group. I surprised my study group with a visit from another classmate (who recently passed the BCBA exam) and one of our professors! It was really great. My surprise classmate knew about the professor, The professor didn’t know about the classmate and my study group didn’t know about either one. Everyone was so happy and excited to see each other, it made my heart smile. We had a really great discussion about study strategies, test strategies, expectations, etc. We decided to double up on sessions over the next few weeks, since the ladies are taking the exam on August 8th. My test day is August 21st. Fingers, toes, eyes, and legs crossed for a passing score for everyone!

Lot of good things so far this week. Hopefully the rest of the week follows suit.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 137: huzzah

Yesterday, Boy Child, Handsome Husband, and I made our yearly trek to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. It was absolutely lovely all day. The weather was about 70, partly cloudy and breezy. Absolutely perfect. On the way home, Hubs and I agreed – if it was any warmer, I would not have made it through the day. We are both super grateful for the weather.

As always we had a super fun time! One our favorite things to do is the RenQuest, which is a live action game you can play throughout the day. You try the different classes (Bard, Rogue, Mage & Warrior) then decide on which one you want to pursue. Each week, you can go back and extend the story, learn more about your class, etc etc. I wish we lived closer so we could go back more often and continue the quest. We are typically only able to go once a year, but the RenQuest gives more purpose and direction to the day. You get to experience things that you otherwise wouldn’t get to. You get to interact with all the players, it’s super neat.

Two years ago, BC tried being a warrior, last year he tried being a mage, this year I think we stumbled upon his calling as a rogue. The Rogue he trained with was so funny and positive, he truly helped it make an enjoyable experience. BC did an awesome job with all his tasks – sword fighting, story telling, “borrowing”, and casting a Confusion spell. He got to assist with the final scene, too. He was charged with making sure the “bad” guys didn’t get away. He took his job VERY seriously.

We were highly entertained all day. ; )

We decided to start a RenFaire jar once we get in the new house. We can collect change all year so we can get super cool stuff at the faire. We are going to start building BC’s costume with the accessory pieces first, since he has some growing to do yet. Kevin says I should be a pirate wench. We don’t know what he is going to be yet, but it’ll be somethin’ good I’m sure. HE should be a bard. That man can weave some tales. Funny tales at that.

This year’s cool crap haul included a drinking horn, a wooden mug, and a wand (guess who got what?). Can’t wait for next year! Hopefully we will get to the RenFaire again this year so we can play another episode of the quest. Time will tell.

In other news, I’m not certain there is other news…. I got my approval letter to take the BCBA exam, I have a really fun surprise for my study group tomorrow, we are still saving for the house, the wedding day is getting closer (ee!), and things are just kinda cruising along. I have to get BC to the doctor for his school physical/dental soon. I can’t believe he is going to be in 6th grade. SIXTH grade. When did that happen? I feel like they were just babies.

One cannot stop the passage of time.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 134: dear 8 pound 6 oz newborn infant Jesus

I officially got my approval to sit for the BCBA exam this morning! A wave of excitement and panic has been surging through my body since I saw the email. I registered and August 21st is test day. Dear sweet golden fleecy baby Jesus, let me pass this exam. Quite a few things are riding on the passage of this exam and I don’t really want to pay another testing fee, hah!

Boy Child is still sleeping off the sickness. Either that or it’s kick-starting the life change of puberty. Speaking of which, that kid had me DYING the other day. He will usually ask if I took any fun cake orders. Well, I told him that someone came in and ordered a cake in the shape of a peep. Not a marshmallow peep but a male person’s peep. He laughed so hard and was like, “OH THAT’S SO GROSS…… It’s not for a kid is it?” I laughed and said, “No, dude, it’s not for a kid.” He breathed a sigh of relief and went, “Oh good, ’cause I was gonna say….. wait. Why would someone want a cake in that shape???!!” The whole process of him thinking it through was hysterical. Then he says something like “Oh, I saw the video in 5th grade and it’s GROSS.” I asked him what he saw in the video. His reply was, “you know, adult stuff.” I said, “well, I *am* an adult so it’s OK for you to talk to me about that kind of stuff.” That’s when the conversation petered out and resumed to watching Frasier.

That kid loves Frasier.

It’s probably the only show that we have watched, sitcom wise, that he really gets. He likes Futurama and sometimes The Office, but he has really gotten in to Frasier. It makes total sense – it’s an intellectual humor show. There’s not much body language to watch or subtle humor or sarcasm – it’s straight dialogue and situational comedy. He GETS it. It’s funny to hear him laugh and see what he finds funny.

He is so super excited about the Ren Faire. Again, funny kid – we were at dinner on Wednesday talking about the Ren Faire. I said hey we need to get you a new wand (last year, he picked one out and it promptly got chewed up by Pepper). He said, “but doesn’t that cost money?” My Mom, Kevin and I were like…. Dude, if we are OFFERING to buy you something, don’t worry about what it costs – just say, “yeah, thank you!” and roll with it. He’s so interesting. He can be overly mindful and cautious, then be the most selfish and jerkish kid on the planet. Ah well.

Then there’s Doods. Eating the breakfast of champions: goldfish and cheese & an ear of corn. God help me. At least she is independent enough to make her own food when she’s hungry. However, she *did* use her tablet to ask Kevin for breakfast this morning, so I’ll take it! Baby steps.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 133: down with the sickness

Well, the great summer plague of 2017 has begun to attack more victims.

The kids were on vacation with their Dad for the past week. When they came back, Boy Child and their Dad said Kaylee had thrown up and was sick for two days of the vacation. All was well and good yesterday until right after bedtime, Boy Child puked. Poor kiddo threw up a second time last night and is completely passed out. Thankfully this only lasts about two days which is great because we have biiiiiiiiiggg plans for the weekend.

This weekend, Husband, Boy Child and I are taking our annual trip….. to the REN FAIRE!!! Super excited. It’s a place where BC can be amongst his own kind.

That’s one of BC’s great qualities: he does not feel bad about who he is or what he likes. There were two kids about his age yesterday that came in to get birthday cakes. They had NO idea what to get and/or were afraid to ask for what they want…. when they finally decided it was very clear that they were picking things that appeased their Moms. The Moms, interestingly, couldn’t understand why their kids had such a hard time picking what they wanted. All I could think of is Boy Child and how when asked what kind of cake he would want, he could give you 8000 ideas – each one weirder than the next. And it’s great. We are proud of him and how he is growing.

I had a surprise for the kids when they came home yesterday. I traded in the old iPad for two tablets. I opted for an iPad Mini for Doods and a Samsung Tab A for Boy Child. I put TouchChat software on it for her and still have some more programming to do. Now they won’t have to wait and share. She has access to it whenever she wants. We used the TouchID so only the few of us have access. Boy Child does NOT have access to Kaylee’s tablet. ; )

Forward progress for the chirrens.

In other news, I taught a class on Tuesday.  I was a guest teacher regarding ABA and Sustainability. I put together a presentation regarding Research Proposals (because anyone in ABA and/or grad school can tell you the importance of how to write a research proposal and/or paper) and my own Sustainability proposal. I walked them through the process and utilized their own real life scenarios. It went really, really well! I felt very comfortable with the vocabulary and questions that were coming at me. I know that if I wasn’t correct, the professor would have chimed in and corrected me…. that didn’t happen.

Afterwards, the class said thank you and it was super helpful. Some said they felt like they learned more last night than they have so far in the whole program. Others said that I should teach collegiate level. And one… well, one said, “Look, I think it’s great if you wanna decorate cakes or whatever because it makes you happy, but you have a real gift that should be shared.”

It’s still sticking with me.

I don’t feel bad about my choices. I’ve had to go through a lot to find a happy balance in my life. I love what I do at the bakery. I love that I’m ok and not great at it. I love that I learn and defer to others and work on a team. I love that I get to draw and create every day for people’s life moments. It’s wonderful and I love it.

I love my weekly study group. Not just because they are a fantastic group of ladies who radiate positivity, but also because I love teaching and assisting. I love seeing that “OH MY GOD, I GET IT NOW” moment. It feels so good to see confidence lifted and progress being made. I’m so proud of these ladies and I wait for the day in October when I get the message saying, “I PASSED THE EXAM!” Because, really, I *know* they will.

It puts a lot of pressure on me to pass the exam myself. I don’t always do well on tests, so I am concerned and have anxiety regarding that. Ultimately, I want to pass the exam so I can work as a Level 1, then get my supervisor certification so I can supervise and someday – teach. I would still like to obtain my PhD someday, but now is not the time. Maybe in a decade or so, once the kids are done with school and on their way as adults, I’ll have more time and can continue my quest to have all the letters surrounding my name. ; )

I still feel good about turning down the doctorate program. I feel super good that I got accepted but now’s just not the right time. My kids still need me a whole lot and I really want to get in to the house this fall. I’m so excited to have our own space with a yard and everything. I can’t wait to have a garden and compost.

In doing the sustainability proposal, I learned a lot about what I really should be doing to help my self and the future be more successful. We do what we can with where we are, but I’m beyond excited to have these opportunities and to teach my kids these important skills. I can’t wait to really teach them about living in a way that is environmentally conscious and develop skills that will help them be even more independent as they get older. To be able to harvest their own food – oh, man. That’s so great.

I’ve just had a lot going through my mind over the past few days and it’s generated a lot of anxiety. Kevin is wonderful. He could tell something was going on last night and that something wasn’t quite ok. So we laid and bed, he listened to me purge and then BC puked. I came back, laid down and he said, “You are a really good mom. You’re doing a really great job with them.” That made me feel good. He’s a wonderful man.

Back tracking a little bit, my ABA study group was too funny. On Monday, one lady goes, “Melinda, you should start a blog!” I said, “I have one!” lol They also suggested starting a Teachers Pay Teachers with some of the resources I have come up with to share. Not a bad idea at all. It’s something I definitely may start doing. I have all kinds of things that I have created that I would be happy to share. It’s all about sharing and the success of others. People helping people.

I hope you all have a great day.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.