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.