Posted in This N That

People Always Reveal Themselves

They say when a person shows you who they are, believe them. That is never truer than when you’re in need. On August 1, I suffered a serious injury breaking multiple bones in my leg. My doctor rebuilt my entire foot. Complication after complication ensued. I started hearing the rumblings of losing mobility. It’s been a traumatizing event physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve endured multiple surgeries, injuries, and life-altering chronic illness in the past. But this injury is worse than all those.

 I’m not one to ask for help. I prefer to give it. Those who know and love me don’t require me to ask. My closest friends don’t wait to organize in a group or depend on someone else to tell them what to do. They swing into action at the first second of trouble. They knew I needed them and came without me ever saying a word.

 They showed up at my door, in my driveway, on my porch, in the mail, or on my phone. I received messages like these; Bringing groceries I got for you, I can get you a knee scooter, I’ll be at the hospital for your surgery, I’ll take care of the boys & the dog, Prayed a special prayer for you today, I’m on my way to Winchester, Headed over with all your favorite snacks, Was planning to see you but now we have this hurricane, What do you want for lunch and don’t say nothing or I’ll break your other leg. That last one made me giggle. Doughnuts, good ole home-cooked meals, and restaurant gift cards arrived. Steve received multiple daily texts asking about me.

 There was disappointment. Someone extremely surprised me by complete exile. But on the days when that hurt most, one of my best besties always seemed to know. They drowned my hurt in their love. When it all felt too much, they encouraged me. They recognized and respected the hardship on Steve. There is nothing they didn’t do.

The saying I began this blog with has negative connotations. It’s meant to make us aware of a person’s fakeness. I choose to turn that coin. I choose to see the positive. I see what people have done and continue to do for me. I claim that love as their revealing nature. So, my dear friends, I can never thank you enough for showing me who you really are.

Posted in Celebrities, Church, Faith, In The News, Politics

How To Stop Vegas Violence

I lived in Vegas for a time and loved it. I failed to see the cinematic version of Vegas Hollywood portrays. I don’t doubt its existence. It just wasn’t as prevalent. Instead, Vegas welcomed this fish out of water Kentucky girl. From people at the grocery store to fellow residents in the apartment complex, all the way to the Strip, people accepted and ribbed about my accent. To which I replied, “I don’t have an accent. You do.”

At 22 years old, I traversed the Las Vegas Strip at night, more often than not alone. Yes, I grasp the foolishness of that now. But then, I never felt threatened or scared. Be it noon or two in the morning, I never encountered someone who gave me pause.

It’s hard to equate my Vegas experience to a madman randomly stabbing people over a picture. In 2017, I stood in stupefied horror watching the news of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. How could that possibly be the Vegas I know and love? The Vegas I returned to with my young sons?

The answer is as simple as it is complex. We cannot keep desensitizing ourselves to violence in movies, books, games, music, etc. and expect to live in a peaceful world. All the gun regulations in the world won’t stop a madman. If Stephen Paddock didn’t have an arsenal to unleash that October day, he could’ve driven a car through the festival. And possibly killed more people than he did with his guns.

We’re looking the wrong way. We’re looking at the outward when it’s the inward we need to attend. Celebrities yammering on about gun control but look at their movies. They intentionally get violent sexualized movies under the R rating in order to reach a younger audience. Listen to the music your kids are listening to. Even worse, look at the behavior of the artist as they perform onstage at awards shows aired during Primetime viewing. How can these people possibly complain about sexualization and violence sprouting from the seeds they plant? And every new venue pushes the envelope a little more.

Sitting back and saying, “I’m against gun violence” isn’t enough. Angrily calling for more gun laws is a copout. What are we doing in our homes to raise the next generation? How much do we know what our kids see online? How much violence are we exposing ourselves to? Asking these questions is difficult. Answering them is harder. But pursuing a more peaceful world will not be easy. It’s the hardest task we have.

Route 91 Shooting Memorial

The one thing we got right is naming love as the answer. Weigh the amount of love and violence exposure in your home and see how the scales hold. Do you and your children know that regardless of what you’ve done, there is a God who loves you and is waiting for you? Even if you don’t believe, don’t you owe it to the pursuit of peace to explore the possibility? Shutdown all violent pathways to your mind. Turn on Contemporary Christian music, read the Bible, discuss and heal the generational pains in your family, and viciously pursue love. Take a week and immerse yourself and family in the love of God and it will change your life.

Posted in Celebrities, In The News, Politics

Four Minutes With Adam Levine

With elections in November, we will hear from celebrities outraged, shocked, or whatever their word of the moment is. They’ll tell us how important it is that we listen to them because they know best. How else could they be such a great singer, actor, or talk show host? I mean, they couldn’t get those jobs without some serious world knowledge, right? Wrong!

There are a few celebrities, Sandra Bullock comes to mind, who are capable of quietly giving to their causes. No fanfare, no proud bragging at awards shows, no voting demands or nonsensical word salads from wannabe royals. When is the last time you heard of a celebrity backing up their words with action? They are few and usually ignored because their beliefs lie opposite to the loudest in the entertainment industry.

Adam Levine has never presented himself as a virtuous man. He’s made clear he takes pride in his relentless bedding of women. His abhorrent misogynistic attitude toward women he excused by his profession of just loving women so much he can’t help himself. Love to him equates treating women as objects of his personal pleasure, not people with lives and talents of their own. Getting involved with or supporting him is about the least feminine affirming thing you can do.

In disgusting blunt terms, he sexualized women on a Hugh Hefner level. But that is Adam Levine in private. The public Adam Levine was tweeting his hate for former President Trump, who Adam labeled sexist, misogynistic, and more. With all his love for women, Adam couldn’t remain silent about Trump. Not that either man’s behavior is excused. I bring up Trump only to demonstrate Adam’s fakeness. While attacking the former president’s moral character, Adam was asking one of his long-term mistresses if he can name his child with his wife after her. Sick! In the wake of his sex scandal, those Maroon 5 songs hit a little different. By no means is Adam the only celebrity talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is only the latest caught.

Martha’s Vineyard is full of hypocritical celebrities. Former President Obama and Oprah both profess their love and empathy for the plight of immigrants. They also have seasonal multi acreage land on Martha’s Vineyard, a self-proclaimed sanctuary city. Yet, they were strangely quiet when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent 50 immigrants to the island. The island hosted hundreds of celebrities for Obama’s birthday bash with no problem, but 50 immigrants sent them in an emergency state requiring the mobilization of the national guard.

Remember all the cries of immigrants in cages and families separated at the border? They got what they claimed they wanted illegal immigrant families together in America and safe from deportation. So why did they flip out? The type of immigrants Martha’s Vineyard support are those overloading all public resources in Florida and Texas. Give them the opportunity to show their superior knowledge and Martha’s Vineyard was outraged, immediately rid themselves of all immigrants and filed legal action to make sure no immigrant ever sully their pristine white beaches again. And they were proud of themselves for such thorough white washing. Citizens of the playground of the wealthy are rich in lectures but poor in humanizing their lectures. Has there ever been a prominently employed immigrant on Martha’s Vineyard? What sort of sanctuary city has no immigrants?

I could rattle on, but you get the point. It’s up to us to weigh the words of preachy celebrities. All we have to do is spend a few minutes researching if they’ve ever done anything besides talk about what they support. Support isn’t passive, it’s active. Just spend four minutes and determine if there is any action behind what a celebrity declares is the moral, just, American way of voting. If you are unwilling to research, please don’t vote. Because what you’re unwilling to spend four minutes researching you sentence the rest of the country to four years of living.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Education, Homeschool, Special Needs Students

Where Do We Belong; Teaching Family Tree

While greeting mourners, the Princess of Wales was overheard saying her two older children were just understanding their relationship to the Queen. It prompted a parent to ask about special needs tips to explain family relations.

Teaching relationships helps kids feel connected, builds a core identity, and helps the child understand the morals, values, and uniqueness of his family. When I taught DJ, I began with John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”

To stimulate visual learning, I drew a tree to put on the wall. Considering DJ’s comprehension at the time, I used only pictures. I started with Grandma Dorothy, our family matriarch, and DJ’s great grandmother. I placed her picture at the top. Beneath her I put Steve’s parents, then Steve and me, and so forth.

DJ’s first family tree

Once DJ understood the people, I added labels (grandma, Mom, etc.) Over a period of years, I added information. I told him stories about his relatives. I took him on a field trip to see some places he had learned about. Armed with the pictures, I asked simple questions like, “This is Peelmore Court. Who grew up here?” He handed me my picture. I continued this to multiple locations. It amazed me what he retained. Special needs kids often absorb far more than we realize.

There is no right or wrong way to teach a family tree. You can make it as easy or complex as your child tolerates. The important thing is to have fun. God created us with an innate desire to know our place in the world. Making a family tree can help your child find his.

Posted in In The News, Patriotism, Politics

Benghazi: The Forgotten 9/11

The Democratic Party and their supporters like to whitewash the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They claim it fosters anger and hate. They intended the Obama Administration to usher in a time of peace away from the wars of the Bush era. They lost sight of the fact that we were in peace on 9/11. Our desire for peace does not deter another’s evil.

L-R Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods

Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi turned Libya into a socialist country. For decades the Libyan people suffered in every conceivable way. Gaddafi reduced his country to squaller even as he lived in splendor. Multiple rebel groups rose up against Gaddafi. Following Gaddafi’s murder in 2011 the country descended further into chaos. Rival groups and turf wars broke out.

In September 2012, the United States had two compounds in Benghazi. A well known diplomatic outpost where US Ambassador Chris Stevens and his envoy were stationed. And a secret CIA annex tasked with locating Gaddafi’s weapons stash and keeping them from enemy hands. The outpost was protected by only six men. The secret annex was protected by former Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Marines.

By all accounts Ambassador Stevens’s message of peace was genuine. It was his belief system not political pandering. Only the secret soldiers understood Stevens could be in danger. They met with the Ambassador’s security team. The compound was weak and would succumb to the slightest resistance. No one knew that better than the special forces secretly stashed a mile from the outpost.

Reccomendations for more men, fortified walls and such were met with a resounding no. Even reports of insurgents taking pictures of the compound were ignored. The attitude in Washington was there was no threat in Libya. Talking heads in Washington labored under the misconception that Libyans felt indebted to America. We helped rid them of Gaddafi. They friendlies in the country might see fortifying walls or increasing protection as preparation for battle. They were more interested in perception than reality.

The first attack was on the compound. Ambassador Stevens and aid Sean Smith were killed. The compound called out for help to the secret soldiers at the Annex. Only a mile from the compound the annex soldiers watched the horror attack unfold. They assembled and were ready to save American lives. They were ordered to stand down. After thirty minutes of listening to desperate pleas and seeing how overrun the outpost was, the secret soldiers ignored the stand down order. They went to do what should have been automatic; defend our people.

An unarmed US drone was overhead feeding events live. Washington could see the Benghazi police they were certain would help flee. Right before their eyes was evidence of how wrong they were about everything. Insurgents using phones to get target coordinates told the story the US Government didn’t want to know. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, infamously denied it was a coordinated terrorist attack. Instead, she proclaimed the attack was born in the moment from angry protests.

It’s been ten years since the coordinated attack in Benghazi. It was a sophisticated attack planned months in advance to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary. Libyan friendlies realized the United States wasn’t helping Americans in Benghazi. They organized and arrived ay the not so secret annex to get our people out.

You can debate who saw what when and the game of deadly politics. But the message is the same. We don’t get peace by asking nicely. We get it through power and respect. We get power and respect by standing ready to fight and refusing to be lulled into false security. The ability to enjoy the best of times while prepared for any response in the worst of times is what freedom is.

Posted in In The News, Royal Family

Variety Tipped To Queen’s Death?

The sad inevitable day has arrived. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away today. News first came that the longest reining monarch was ill. Lover of all things British that I am, I immediately began following the story. When news broke of her death it didn’t come first from the Daily Mail, BBC, CNN, Fox News, or any mainstream news outlet. Instead, it came from entertainment magazine Variety.

By chance, I was on Twitter when Variety sent out the death tweet. Immediately, I went to the Daily Mail. There was no update from their earlier stories. Surprised, I went to other news outlets. Nothing. I went back and reviewed the tweet thinking perhaps I misread it. But there it was. “Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II Dies at 96.” At that point, Twitter stamped the tweet as 48 seconds old. For approximately two minutes only Variety reported the death. Then all at once other news outlets confirmed the Queen’s passing.

It’s a pretty safe bet to say Variety was tipped off. If that is the case, it’s also a safe bet to say Meghan Markle likely tipped them off. Tweets are marked in seconds and minutes until they reach an hour. With only a few minutes between the Variety tweet and other outlets, and the fact I didn’t think to screenshoot it, I don’t have tangible evidence. It’s my supposition Meghan tipped off Variety. Why do I think this?

Variety never misses an opportunity to shout their wonder and admiration of Harry and Meghan. The magazine hailed Meghan’s podcast as a resounding success. It’s not. The former royals are skipping around the globe with a Netflix crew in tow. Meghan has the reputation of tipping off publications known to favor her.

Meghan timed the photo call for Archie’s birth to coincide with prime morning news hour in America. She prefers news break in the States where she gets the most positive attention. CBS news anchor and BFF of Oprah Winfrey gained one of only three slots at Windsor Castle to photograph Archie, much to the frustration of British media. King also spent time with Harry and Meghan at Frogmore Cottage days before the birth. And let’s not forget the infamous Oprah tell all lie fest. Meghan definitely has her favorites in the media. Variety is one of them. She erroneously thinks it’s her gateway to Hollywood. It’s not.

I may not have hard evidence Meghan used the Queen’s death to curry media favors but the circumstantial evidence is sufficient for me. You can make up your own mind. Believe it or not, one thing is undeniable. Harry and Meghan sadly didn’t care enough about the Queen to accept her invitation to visit at Balmoral. How ironic Harry wound up there anyway, alone. A day late and dollar short, as they say.

Posted in Celebrities, In The News


No matter the climate, we can count on the former prince known as Harry to muck up Constitutional rights. You’d think after that humiliating First Amendment is bonkers thing Harry would spend five minutes fact checking the speech Meghan wrote for him. But nope!

During his UN Nelson Mandela Day speech, Harry remarked upon the travesty of SCOTUS’s “rolling back of Constitutional rights in the United States.” There’s a bit of a hiccup with that though. RoeVWade was a Supreme Court ruling, not a Constitutional right. The difference is significant.

A SCOTUS ruling is a court case. If you lose a court case you can appeal it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. They may find in your favor. However, your win does not make it a right or law for everyone. The court system in America rules on specific cases and precedence.

In the RoeVWade case SCOTUS, rightly, upheld the founding fabric of this country. Our system is designed to allow states to establish law for their constituents rather than a large federal government dictating to everyone. Outside of national security, the federal government cannot interfere in state government. Even in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster, the governor of the state must request federal aid before FEMA can respond.

Remember Hurricane Katrina? Federal aid wasn’t initially sent to multiple parishes in New Orleans because Louisiana Governor Blanco didn’t include those parishes in his request for aid from the Bush Administration. Despite all the erroneous liberal “outrage” SCOTUS ruled abortion is a state mandate like everything else. If Harry and Meghan are so constitutionally literate and powerful, why didn’t they provoke the ratification of RoeVWade?

To make abortion a Constitutional right, RoeVWade would’ve had to be ratified, voted on and added to the Constitution as an amendment. An amendment requires two-thirds of our 50 states to request a convention in order to vote on the matter. If the states fail to do so, Congress can ratify it with a two-thirds vote in both houses. In the 50 years since it’s been on the books, including 29 of those years under Democratic rule, no one attempted to ratify RoeVWade.

We can somewhat excuse Harry’s Constitutional ignorance. Although, at this juncture, one would think he’d be wising up. But Meghan? What’s her excuse? If you married a hapless prince from another country, wouldn’t you read his speech and advise him before he gave an “expert” opinion on the host country’s politics on the world stage?

Harry and Meghan hold themselves above us mere peasants. They present themselves as all wise, super rich, and mega famous. When, in fact, they are shockingly oblivious to reality, live well beyond their means, and are clinging to the gutter. They are victims of their own demise. And when that demise hits them, it will be in a humiliatingly spectacular public fashion. But it won’t be a Constitutional Right.

Posted in Celebrities, domestic violence, In The News

What Is It About Campfires & Abuse? Raquel Pennington Testifies

Today Amber Heard’s former friend Raquel Pennington testified to a campfire event she witnessed between Amber and Johnny Depp. According to her, Amber was sitting in the lap of another female friend. The friend had an arm draped around Amber. Although Raquel passed this off as normal, it’s bizarre to me. I’m close to my friends but we don’t sit in each other’s lap. But Amber’s previous partner was female, so perhaps it’s normal to her. Which gives reason to Johnny appearing and telling the friend, “Get your hands off my woman.” Amber got up and followed Johnny as he walked off. It’s as if she is quoting a story right out of my life.

Raquel stated Johnny had been with the group earlier, so she was surprised at his abrupt change. In her words, “It’s like a switch flipped.” As someone in that exact situation, I say that is a very accurate description. Unless you’ve been a victim of domestic violence, you cannot understand the internal and permanent damage of a person’s entire thought process.

Abusers are narcissistic and insecure. In order to validate themselves, they engage in jealousy inciting behavior. They ignore their victim and shower attention on another. Nothing makes them feel empowered more than setting up a rivalry and demeaning their victim in front of friends.

Years ago, a guy I dated was not a physical abuser but a master manipulator. He would never lay hands on me. His preferred tactic was psychological, which is an abuse of another type. The abuser’s humiliation tactics flood bone deep into the victim. Resurrected emotions surface.

The first response is to ignore it. The mindset is, if he is ignoring me, I’ll pretend it doesn’t bother me. You want to withhold the reaction he seeks. But the rejection, embarrassment, and anger crawls through you, devouring you from the inside out.

In my case, after seeking me out as soon as he arrived, he ignored me. Because I was target shooting away from the main area, he needed to find me. He wanted me to know he arrived. Instead of approaching me like a normal human, he shouts from a distance, “Who gave Joan a gun?” then ran off. It was a funny joke. I thought little about it. But that was it. He never spoke another word to me.

As night fell, we sat around a campfire. He seated himself in front of me, but pointedly ignored me. I don’t think he planned what happened next, but he sure didn’t dissuade it. A random girl seated herself on one of his knees. At once, everyone turned to me. A response was required.

I sifted through my options until I landed on one. I turned to the group of his and my friends I’d been hanging with all day and said with a laugh, “Maybe I should sit on his other knee.” That was it. Gauntlet thrown and bets made. My friend I came with immediately started telling the others not to bet because I’d do it. That only brought more money into the game. People were gathering around me, whispering and laughing. Others realized something was brewing, but they didn’t know what.

With a fair amount of money on the table and the opportunity to reclaim power, I had to do it. I rose to my feet and sauntered over with full on sass. Eager laughter and anticipation rose behind me. I sat on his free knee, wound my arm around his shoulders and said, “Hi baby.” Groans from those who thought I wouldn’t do it and celebrating from those who knew I would erupted. I watched everyone exchange money with a grin of satisfaction.

I bent to his ear and whispered, “I don’t share.” With that, I got to my feet, walked behind him, motioned to my friend to get my money and meet me at the car. According to those there, when he realized I was leaving, he told the girl to get up. She said no. He told her a few more times, and she continued to refuse. She finally got up when he basically told her to get up or he’d remove her.

I was almost to my car when he called my name. Turned, it surprised me to find him running after me. But the damage was done. I was leaving.

To others, it may have looked like a switch flipped in me. They were not privy to what transpired between us in private. They didn’t know the damage inflicted by his pushing me away with one hand and pulling me to him with the other. They knew nothing about the demons I fought and his desire to resurrect them.

I’ve heard multiple people tell similar campfire stories. It’s strange to think a laid back event turns to a catalyst for abuse. That’s why judging a person by a single behavior is never a good idea. You need a baseline of the person. Abuse doesn’t discriminate. It stretches across gender, financial status, married, and unmarried. The National Statistics for Domestic Violence indicates 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner. You don’t know if the behavior you are witnessing is a direct response to ongoing abuse. Before you judge, consider you’re witnessing a plea for help. Respond to that. And for goodness’ sake, people with shaky relationships should avoid campfires.

Posted in Education, In The News, parenting

Disney In Chaos

It was surreal to watch Prince Harry pitch voice over work for Meghan to then Disney CEO Bob Iger. Meghan got her voice over in the infamous Elephant documentary. Regardless of how interesting the documentary was and how fast her PR team spun it, Meghan Markle can’t even read with flourish. It was amusing to see the end of Iger’s CEO position (his choice or no) come on the heels of Elephant.

What makes the story even more tantalizing is that “super feminist” Meghan wanted to meet and work with Iger. At the time Harry pitched his wife’s alleged skills, Iger, his predecessor Michael Eisner, and Walt Disney Company were under a lawsuit. Actress Paz de la Huerta alleged the CEO’s and the Disney company created an environment enabling prolific rapist Harvey Weinstein.

The lawsuit didn’t curb the disturbing actions of Disney and its employees. In March Florida, detectives conducted a sting operation targeting child sexual predators and prostitution. Disney employees were among the 108 arrested. From a hotel lifeguard through Tomorrowland to IT workers, the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth became the creepiest place on earth.

Ten days after the arrests, Florida enacted the “Parental Rights in Education” bill. Though dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that’s not what it is. The “Parental Rights In Education” bill makes it illegal for children kindergarten to third grade to be exposed to sex education. It doesn’t target just homosexuality as the media would have you believe. It includes sexual content of any nature. That fact eludes those claiming the bill is an attack on LGBTQ.

Current Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, said Disney “unequivocally” stands with LGBTQ. That’s interesting considering Disney cruises go to multiple countries who’ve outlawed homosexuality and often impose the death penalty if caught. Shouldn’t Chapek end those cruise destinations in support of LGBTQ?

Chapek, laboring under the misconception Disney was untouchable, and pressured by the minority, came out swinging against the bill. Despite their lineage of alleged sexual misconduct, Chapek vowed to take on Florida politics in general and Governor Ron DeSantis in particular. It was a classic cut off your nose to spite your face move.

Until yesterday, Disney operated under unique circumstances. The state of Florida gave them tax breaks and special self-governing allowances. Knowing this, Chapek continued his war of words against DeSantis. By the time he figured out it would be wise to shut up and stay out of politics, it was too late. The Florida legislature stripped Disney’s special privileges.

Amidst the drama, subscribers to Disney Plus streaming service canceled. Stock in Disney plunged 33% and a high number of vacationers cancelled. All of this plays out as Johnny Depp battles for his reputation in a defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. When Depp was accused of domestic violence, Disney dropped him. A move that was premature and a violation of the American mantra, “innocent until proven guilty.” Revelations now paint heard as the violent one. Once again, Disney responded without facts. That seems to be their anthem. If Depp wins the current suit, it will be interesting to see if he goes after Disney next. After all, they cost him wages on a false accusation. That won’t go over well legally.

Walt Disney created Disney to cater to families, not political ideologies. It is a swipe at his legacy to throw his masterpiece in a raging political storm. As summer approaches, it’s vital Disney return to its roots to win back the canceled vacations. They should replace Chapek with an anti-political CEO with fierce leadership skills. Will they do it? Who can free Disney from the mousetrap they caught themselves in?

Posted in Book Promotion

Stained Glass Windows Book Cover Reveal

A couple of years ago, I was on Twitter talking about who knows what. I tweeted something in relation to me praying for someone. A random stranger responded. He said his friend lost a croc and asked if I would pray for him to find it. Because I can laugh just as much at myself as I can at anyone else, I pounced. Of course, I’d pray for the horrible tragedy of a lost croc. The shoe, not the reptile.

A few tweets in and others joined the fun. Looking at their bios, I realized they all know each other. They live in the United Kingdom, are sarcastic, goad one another, and are highly amused by their own tweets. That’s a group I can get onboard with.

A year or more after our first interaction, I needed to decide on a book cover. I reviewed several, but nothing felt right. I wanted a book cover as unique as the story. I turned to my guys in the UK.

Once you’ve seen Paul Brandford’s work, you don’t forget it. His distinctive style invokes a multitude of words through a single image. His work tells a story you didn’t know you needed. I reviewed countless others but always came back to Paul of Brandford Studios.

I provided him a watered down synopsis but offered nothing in way of artistic preference. I wanted his take. He did not disappoint. What I love most about the cover is the blending of the beginning and the end. Below is the cover image seamlessly weaving the first page into the last.

Posted in Celebrities, In The News

Will, Jada & Authentic Marriage

Lurking below that slap heard around the world is a more sinister operandi. In the months leading up to the Oscars, Jada launched an attack on Will Smith. She humiliated him by justifying her affairs publicly. By his admission, it is Jada who wanted their marriage open. He agreed just so he could keep a wife who says he can’t satisfy her.

A pair of videos, one on each of their Instagram accounts, are the prelude to the attack on Chris Rock. Less than a week before the Oscars, Jada posted several videos on Instagram about fashion. In one of those videos she says, “I don’t give two craps what people say about this bald head of mine because I love it.” The day of the Oscars, Will posted a video on his Instagram. That video shows them in their Oscar clothing. It’s overlaid with a voice saying, “Good morning, everyone. God has let me live another day and I’m about to make it everyone’s problem.” Pictures pop up of the couple with multiple expressions on their faces.

Without their attempt to humiliate Chris Rock, these videos appear innocent and unconnected. After the fact, they draw questions. One absolute is Jada lied. She either lied when she said she didn’t give “two craps” about what people say, or she lied when she set Will off with only a look. Will’s “everybody’s problem” video is coincidental on his part. I can’t say the same for Jada. It’s possible it was her idea as she continued her emotional assault on her husband.

In the months leading up to the Oscars, Jada humiliated Will at every opportunity. Who can forget his expression as he sat before millions on social media listening to his wife divulge her affair? Or the video in which he asked her not to video him without telling him first. She called that foolishness. He explained, “social media is my bread and butter.” Yet, she continued videoing and posted it despite his obvious displeasure.

Jada’s behavior is indicative of narcissism, emotional abuse, and control issues. Marriage is a union of two, not a dictatorship of one. Yes, marriages struggle and it’s okay if both parties are willing to discuss the issues publicly. But putting your husband on full display, blindsiding him, and systematically breaking him down on what he termed his “bread and butter” is cruel. From her behavior, we can deduce that Jada Pinkett Smith herself is cruel.

A man can only tolerate being torn down for so long before he snaps. Jada chipped away at Will for months. She beat him down emotionally, emasculated, and humiliated him publicly. Will needed to prove he was a man. So despite his first laughing at a harmless joke, he strolled to the stage like it was the OK corral to “defend” his wife and reclaim his manhood. What he actually did was ruin his career.

We are all ultimately responsible for our own actions. But sometimes we need help to see how toxic a spouse is. There is something inside a person that makes them vulnerable to abusive partners. We must ferret that out, examine it, and conclude a set of actions to break the cycle. When we do that, we set ourselves free to enjoy an honest, loving, supporting marriage the way God intended.

Posted in Celebrities, In The News, Parenting From The Headlines, Special Needs Kids

Will Smith’s Shameless Attack On Advocacy

Rocked by scandals, mocked for wokeness, overrun with hypocrisy, and desperate to resurrect viewers, Hollywood needed the Academy Awards to score big. Oscar was limping along in a stale state but better than expected. Then Will Smith channeled his inner Kanye West.

Of all the TMI moments Will and Jada Smith inundated us with over the last few years, the only good one was Jada’s struggles with alopecia. Jada stated she wants to use her platform to bring awareness to the condition. Admirable. Except she didn’t do it. Then Will hit the nuclear button peppering her advocacy claims with the effectiveness of hollow point bullets.

Demi Moore was an epic GI Jane, is an iconic actress, and has her own advocacy platform. There is no insult in being classified with her. Chris Rock’s joke wasn’t insulting either. Will laughed until he saw his wife’s face. She obviously was far too sensitive and overreacted.

Jada should’ve stood up flexed her muscles, made a powerful pose, done anything indicative of GI Jane strength and courage when Chris made the joke. Think of the inspiring message. Alopecia makes you GI Jane strong! She then could’ve had Chris on her Red Table Talk to discuss it. Better yet, GI Jane 2 with Jada in the lead role and a class of recruits with alopecia. What could’ve been a female empowering message devolved into violence as the answer.

It’s shameful Jada couldn’t get past her thin-skinned self long enough to encourage others from a world stage. Will strolling up to that stage and shouting profanities from his seat only confirmed how shameless he is at his core. All this they did in front of their kids. Their son, Jaden, tweeted, “And That’s How We Do It.” Congrats Will and Jada. You just told your kids to result to violence regardless of how benign a joke is. If they do, and God forbid get seriously injured, killed or do the same to someone else, you will question the actions you demonstrated for them in this moment.

If the Academy Awards hopes to salvage anything good from that dumpster fire, they should strip Will of his Oscar. No action on their part is silence acceptance of audience members punching comedians when they don’t like the joke. And that is something that should concern every comedian.

My words come to you from experience. Jokes are made about my hearing disability all the time. Doesn’t bother me a bit. One of my son’s stutters and two others have special needs. I advocate for education and the disabled. I’m a gold medalist in dealing with stupid comments, rude stares, and cruel jokes. The Smith family endured none of that last night.

Advocating means putting yourself out into a world of keyboard warriors who get their kicks being abusive and cruel. If you can’t take it for the team don’t advocate. Leave it to someone with thicker skin, a quicker wit, and less bent toward violence.

Posted in In The News

Our Obligation To Ukraine

A history lesson for those who think the United States isn’t obligated to help Ukraine.

In 1989, Republican President Ronald Reagan’s desire to end America’s Cold War with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and push back on communism materialized. When the USSR crumbled multiple territories succeeded. One of which was Ukraine.

Russia’s multiple nuclear weapons were spread throughout the now succeeded territories. The question of what to do with them arose. Democratic President Bill Clinton feared the weapons were too vulnerable to theft or blackmarket sales. He wanted them destroyed. Russia said the weapons belonged to them and wanted them back.

Obviously, Ukraine balked at the notion. Giving Russia their nuclear weapons assured the threat of a Russian invasion. Ukraine didn’t want the weapons. They wanted the leverage of having the weapons. Less chance of a Russian invasion if Ukraine had nukes.

Clinton adamantly implored Ukraine to give Russia the nukes. After multiple failed attempts to negotiate a partial reduction leaders of Ukraine, the United States, Russia and others met in Lisbon, Portugal. Worn down by Clinton’s dogged pursuit of the matter, Ukraine agreed under two conditions. 1. They monitor the transfer of weapons to Russia. 2. The United States agree to defend Ukraine against an invasion. Everyone agreed and signed the arms treaty dubbed the Portugal Protocol.

Ukraine kept their end of the bargain. At the time of the Portugal Protocol Ukraine was third in the world for the number of nuclear weapons. Today they have none. The weapons Clinton hammered Ukraine to return are now threatened against them with.

The Portugal Protocol was the idea of a Democratic President. As Ukranian President Zelensky battles side by side with his people President Biden refuses to honor the treaty of his own party!!!!

So, yes. We have an ABSOLUTE obligation to defend Ukraine. We should’ve done so long before the invasion. The blood flowing through the decimated streets of Ukraine takes a path straight to the White House and the Democratic Party. Not honoring our treaty is a black eye to America reverberating around the world.

Posted in Celebrities, In The News, Patriotism, Royal Family

A Tea Party for Harry

Just when I think I can’t be surprised by the stupid leaking from Harry and Meghan’s mouths they prove me wrong. But Harry has really stepped in it this time. He took narcissism to a whole new level.

On Dax Shepherd’s podcast, Harry declared the First Amendment to the US Constitution bonkers. But that’s not even the worst part. Before I get to that lets have a mini Constitution class.

The Constitution of the United States sets the foundation for all America is. The Preamble sets the stage. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

As America evolved the Constitution was amended. There are 33 Amendments to the US Constitution. The first ten Amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. Of all the Amendments the Bill of Rights is the most sacred. The very First Amendment provides freedom of religion, speech, assembly, press, and the ability to petition the government. They are the very heart of America. Enter Harry.

“I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment as I sort of understand it but it’s bonkers. I don’t want to start going down the First Amendment route because that’s a huge subject and one which I don’t understand because I’ve only been here a short time, but you can find a loophole in anything. You can capitalize or exploit what’s not said rather than uphold what is said.”

Those are Harry’s words. The most shocking claim is in bold. This pissant of a prince thinks he can come to our country and exploit a 200-year-old document that is fundamental to the most powerful country in the world?! Or that he is exempt from upholding our inalienable rights? And will do so despite the fact he doesn’t even understand what he’s trying to dismantle. Has he gone mad? Or is his head so far up his rear he can’t see anything except his own crap?

If Meghan wants to keep her celebrity status she better leash and muzzle her dog. There’s only so much bad press that can be seen as good. A rising tide of backlash and the King and Queen of Grifting will find themselves outcast. So, go ahead Harry. You think you’re so much smarter than everyone else. Just try to exploit, twist, or defy our First Amendment rights and you’ll get a good taste of that American backlash that sent tea into the Boston Harbor.

Posted in Bullying, In The News, Politics

BLM Devolving Into Terrorists

It seemed a good idea. Create a grassroots organization to bring awareness to the plight of black communities. What it seemed and what it is are two very different things.

On April 18, two gunmen ambushed a car in a McDonalds drive-thru. Of the 50 shots fired six hit 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams. One hit her father. Where is BLM for this little girl who just wanted a Happy Meal? Where’s all the outrage? Why are there no demands to say her name?

Two days later, Ma’Khia Bryant was milliseconds from stabbing another black girl. A cop, arriving at the scene saved the other woman’s life by shooting MaKhia. BLM is protesting and wants “justice for Ma’Khia.” Oh, okay. So, the victim’s black life doesn’t matter, little Jaslyn’s black life doesn’t matter but a black knife-weilding attacker’s does? Who makes this determination?

Little Jaslyn’s senseless murder is suspected gang violence. Why is BLM not in those communities helping? Last year alone BLM took in $90 million dollars. Yet, there’s not one report of a single cent going to black communities. Additionally, the self-described Marxist who co-founded BLM bought four luxury homes in the US, for $3.2 million dollars. There is a potential deal in the works to purchase properties in the Bahamas for $25 million. All the while, the communities destroyed by BLM protests go without.

What is BLM doing while they sit atop a fortune? A group of BLM protestors went into a Target with a megaphone demanding they stop arresting black people for shoplifting. They go to restaurants and run people out, take their food, challenge them to fight, and anything else they can think of to harass. They murdered a black security guard. They burned black-owned businesses. An older black lady cried on tv because BLM violence halted public transportation effectively cutting off her access to food, doctors, and pharmacies. They vandalize public property, riot, and attack innocent bystanders. They demand no police in areas of highest crime.

BLM is taking in money hand over fist and using it to fund their demands and desires. They threaten that if they don’t get what they want they will take to the streets in violent protest. That is not a charity organization. That is terrorism. And you need to ask yourself why you are supporting it.

Posted in Celebrities, Just for fun

Was Ross and Rachel on a Break?

It’s been 25 years since, in today’s language, Ross and Rachel unfriended each other. In 1996 Friends roared into it’s third season. Season two left off with Ross supporting Rachel at Barry and Mindy’s wedding. It was such a sweet moment, which left us unprepared for what was coming. We were mourning the relationship death of Monica and Richard. Little did we know.

Season 3 finds Ross in the throes of unwarranted jealousy. Since Rachel refused to wear her I heart Ross T-shirt and ring a bell to work tensions rose. Granted Rachel probably could have made more time for Ross but nearly burning down her office put a damper on things. The argument that ensued led to Rachel’s infamous line. “Maybe we should take a break.” Ross mistakenly interrupts that as a break from the fight. Rachel delivers an equally infamous line of, “No. A break from us.”

Mark visits Rachel to cheer her up. Ross calls Rachel. When he hears Mark in the background it reminds he has copying needs -apparantly. After getting Zeroxed Ross runs down the trail of his misdeed in vain. Rachel knows.

Through gut wrenching scenes the end comes. When Rachel tells Ross to leave we got the line more painful and infamous than the others. Ross in disbelief and agony declares it can’t be the end. And Rachel says, “Then how come it is?” Ugh! Talk about a shot to the heart.

So. Where they on a break? Is it justifiable to sleep with someone else minutes after a break-up? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Leave your responses in the comments and lets put this thing to bed.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, funny, parenting, Special Needs Kids, The DJ Journey

Should “Hateful Ass” Be In The Bible?

This is my son Colton. He is on the autism spectrum and has an Olympic worthy ability to find humor in the oddest things. Once he latches on to something funny he will randomly laugh aloud each time it plays in his head. Which is often. For days. Weeks. Months. I’ve seen it go on for years.

This is my son DJ. He has mitochondrial disease and is nonverbal. That should not be confused with quiet. He is the loudest nonverbal kid on the planet. He points, jabbers, yells in a language only he understands and has zero problem expressing his emotions. He has a very short fuse. The difference between emotional outbursts due to his disability and those from pure anger or frustration, is like the difference between a cloud covered night and one lit with the Batman signal.

This is them with their brother Dalton, dressed as a very bad Elvis. Too much to unpack there. Forward focus.

DJ’s emotional development is in the slow powder keg burning teen years. He wants what he wants and he wants it last week. He finds us imbeciles for our inability to predict his moods far in advance.

Steve and I parent as a unit. If he’s handling a problem I stay out of it. But as a Oh-no-you-did-not parent, If I must get involved, it’s on like Donkey Kong! Such was the case today.

DJ found a replay of Saturday’s Kentucky – Louisville basketball game. I’m one of those die hard, arrogant, UK fans that makes other teams dread playing us at Rupp Arena and their fans hate us. Big Blue Nation, I bleed blue and all that.

DJ, however, takes it to a whole new level. In particularly bad games, he stands in the middle of the floor screaming like a wild banshee and flinging anything he can get his hands on. Which gives anyone trying to make entry into his room a crash course in what it must feel like to stroll through a minefield.

This year our basketball program sucks because of this man.

Who should really read that book he wrote.

Somewhere between then and now, he added an option. Losing. Embarrassingly. We haven’t had a 1-6 season since 1911! NINETEEN ELEVEN!!! For the math strugglers, that’s a friggin’ 109 years! For DJ it’s motive.

I didn’t tell him about the game but he found it on ESPN. The boy just lost it. First came the screams. Then the hand biting. Next thing I knew, sounds of tornadic activity emanated from his room.

I go tearing up the stairs to yell at him for yelling. Because that’s how you do it, right? You just out yell them? Never mind. Don’t answer that. Back to the story.

Colton, entered the scene. I tried explaining to DJ. He got angrier. I confirmed his little emotions but warned him justification of emotions is not justifications of actions. DJ calmed a bit but continued mouthing off. Which prompted me to tell him not to be a hateful ass. Which prompted Colton’s asperger brain to commence laughter.

DJ and I look at Colton questioningly. Between laughter Colton says, “I’ve heard mean ass but not hateful ass. That sounds like something that should be in the Bible. ‘I smite thee for thy hateful ass!” DJ enthusiastically repeated in rapid succession one of three words he commands. Yeah!

I looked at them both, concluded I should start day drinking and left them to it.

Posted in Beauty For Ashes, Faith, In The News

We All Have Our 9/11: This Is Mine

I sat at the kitchen table discussing with my husband, Steve, our busy day. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I asked Steve what time his meeting started. He said, nine. I turned to look at the clock behind me. It was 8:45. American Airlines flight 11 was thundering toward New York City. We were 60 seconds away from unimaginable turmoil and devastation.  

My son, DJ, was an infant. He started fussing. Intending to calm him with a video, I flipped the TV on. The image of the North Tower on fire filled the screen. First reports indicated a small commuter plane accidently crashed into the tower.  It made little sense, but how else could we explain it?  This is America.  Terror doesn’t come to our soil. Everything we thought we knew was wrong.  And what we could never imagine was bearing down on us.   

As a former EMT, my brain assessed the scene on TV, while I stood flipping through options of to save the most lives. I saw a plane on the right side of the TV screen.  I actually gave a sigh of relief.  A rescue.  They could get people off the roof.  Then it happened.

United Airlines Flight 175 plowed into the South Tower. An enormous fireball erupted.  That plane hit the building. That plane just flew into that building.  On purpose!  I couldn’t form any other thought. I don’t know how long I stood there. When the process of thought returned, I realized DJ stopped fussing the minute the TV came on.  As if his only reason for fussing was to alert me to the attack.

I left the room briefly.  When I returned, I saw a split TV screen, on one side the towers burned, on the other the Pentagon.  I gasped.  What is happening?  I felt God impress upon my heart to pray. Despondency cascaded over me.  God, I don’t even know what to pray for. I felt God’s   response. “Pray for my people I’m bringing out.” I dropped to my knees.  I intended to pray aloud.  I choked on words and just wept.

When Steve returned from his meeting, I went to our older sons’s school. Steve and I decided taking them out of school may scare them too much. The only target for terrorists in Kentucky is Fort Knox. We’re far from there.  But I wanted to be the one to explain the attack to them.  I wanted to reassure them.  Pray with them.

In the school office, the secretary called for the boys.  I did my best to explain things to them.  We prayed and when I raised my head, I realized prayer re-entered public school.  A small group of people gathered around us and bowed their heads, joining us in prayer.

Back at home, details of United Flight 93 came in.  Those passengers took back their liberty.  They voted on a plan to storm the cockpit.  Even in the face of certain death, they upheld democracy. Americans to the end.

The reaming hours of 9/11 unfolded with shock, horror, and heroism.  It was the worst day for America, but never was she more beautiful. Flags unfurled across the country. Our government sang “God Bless America” on the steps of Capitol. People flocked to churches, gave blood, and made plans to enlist in the military.  I’ve never been more proud to be American as I was on 9/11.  From the ashes we rose as one.  May God forever bless the U.S.A.  

Posted in Tuesday Tales

Funny Conversation With Asperger Kid.

Several years ago, my son Colton wanted to walk alone from his grandparents house to the annual Pioneer Festival. I was a bit nervous about it. I knew it hurt him to see his brothers have independence he dreamed about. I agreed. I called him to check on him and the following conversation took place.

Me: Have you found the alley to cut through?

Colton: No. But some people I’m walking with are going to show me.

Me: Colton, you’re not walking with people you don’t know are you?

Colton: Uhh. No.

Me: What are their names?

Colton: Excuse me, people I’m walking with. What are your names?

Me: OH MY GOSH! Colton, you’re walking with strangers!

Colton: No, I’m not. They said they know my grandparents.

Me: That’s like rule 1 in the child abductor’s handbook, tell the kid you know their grandparents.

Colton: Well, I’m not walking RIGHT beside them. There’s a little space.

Me: (After figuring out they did know his grandparents) Now, Colt. You’re not going to the festival and walk with people you don’t know are you?

Colton: Mom, I’m 20. I got this.

Me:(Thinking of all the things he couldn’t do & how much he wants this bit of independence) Okay. But call me to check in, in an hour? What time is it now?

Colton: Excuse me, people I’m walking with, what time is it?

Posted in Tuesday Tales

How NOT to Make a Bird Cat Friendship

When I was a little girl, my sister Brenda took care of me in the summer while our parents worked.  We got in trouble – A LOT!  If we weren’t fighting each other; we were scheming together.  But I tended to drive her a little batty sometimes.  One such instant played out with our pets.

Brenda had a parrot named BB, and I had a cat named Tiger Wayne.  Yes, I picked that name myself.  Cause no one should be without a middle name, right?  That thought process tells you a lot about my shenanigans.

To say the cat wasn’t fond of the bird is a gross understatement.  You know the scene in the movie Madagascar when Alex the Lion looks at Marty the zebra with steaks in his eyes?  That was Tiger Wayne to BB.  Well, of course I knew how to fix it.  Don’t I always have the answer?  

I snatched up Tiger Wayne and put him in the bathroom.  Then I retrieved BB from his cage and had him join Tiger Wayne in the bathroom.  I admonished them to be friends, then locked the door, shut it and stepped into the hall.  Immediate chaos.

With partially clipped wings BB lacked the ability to fly to higher safety.  He could airborne for a second then crash to the ground.  He was squawking and banging into the walls as Tiger Wayne pursued him with screeching of his own.  Realizing I’m a stupid little kid complicit in pet homicide, I started screaming.  Brenda, who up to this point was enjoying her day lounging in the sun, came racing in.

“What’s wrong?!”  Her voice full of fear she scanned me.  Judging by my level of screaming, she was certain she’d find my arm cut off or something equally terrifying.

“Tiger Wayne is going to eat BB.”

That’s the precise moment the noise from the bathroom penetrated her fear of me being hurt.    She rattled the doorknob in panic.  “The door won’t open.”

“I locked it.”

If her bird’s life wasn’t in danger, I swear she would have throttled me right there.  Instead, she wrapped up all my stupidity into a single sentence dripping with disbelief.  “Why would you do that?”     

Just when she thought I couldn’t shock her more, I answered through quaking sobs and large gulps of air,.  “I wanted them to be friends.”

“You locked them in the bathroom to be friends?”

I nodded.  She practically growled.  A solution arriving in my sister’s brain spared my life. She tore off into the other room and returned with a hammer.  Before I asked her intent she began whaling away on the wooden door.  Once she made a hole, she reached through and unlocked the door.  Because BB was still intact Brenda allowed me to remain that way.  Not to mention, beating a hole in a door went a long way in relieving her fear and anger.  

With Tiger Wayne and BB safely separated, Brenda determined we were in big trouble with Mom.  So, what do we do?  Lie of course.  I wasn’t in full agreement.  However, I thought locking our pets in the bathroom together would make them friends.  So, maybe I’d go with Brenda on this one. 

Brenda told Mom I got locked in the bathroom and couldn’t get out.  Ronnie, a neighbor up the street, came down and knocked the hole in the door to save me.  It offended me Mom bought the story.  How dumb did she think I was?  Sure, locking a barely able to fly parrot in the bathroom with his greatest predator wasn’t my best idea, but good grief!  I could work a doorknob!   

Everything was fine until Mom thanked Ronnie for saving me from a door I mastered.  Ronnie was clueless.  Brenda, operating on same genius level as I, didn’t consider the possibility of Mom mentioning it to Ronnie.  Even though Ronnie lived only three houses away.  And she and Mom talked.  Every day.     

Mom picked our story apart.  Brenda and I may not have been the brightest crayons in the box, but we knew when Mom was baiting us.  We confessed. 

Mom believed in creative punishment.  She made us paint the side of the house.  And that’s where Mom’s crayon lost a bit of brightness.  A hot summer day, frustrated sisters, and house paint?  Mom was asking for it.  That’s a tale for another Tuesday.

Posted in funny, parenting, Tuesday Tales

Failed Hit On A Guinea Pig

As an adult, my son Dalton and I swapped stories we’d kept from each other. When Dalton was about seven, he wanted a guinea pig. At the pet store, his older brother, Colton decided he wanted one. Dalton named his Lilly, and Colton named his Diamond. As a child I raised hamsters and wrongly assumed guinea pigs were the same, just a bigger model. So, I skipped researching them. Bad move.

While we were on vacation, my mom took care of them at her house. By the time we returned, she was as attached to them as the boys. A few days later Dalton announced one morning that something was wrong with Lilly. I sent Dalton to school and took Lilly to the vet where I got the grim prognosis.

Guinea pigs have very sensitive airways and tend to hide when they’re sick. By the time you realize your pig is sick it’s usually too late. Their respiratory system can’t tolerate smoke. My heart sank. My Mom smoked like a freight train. Lilly didn’t have a chance.

Dalton was crushed. The first thing my Mom said was, “Do you think I did something to it?” I could hear the anguish in her voice. I didn’t see the need to worsen the situation with the truth, so I lied.

Dalton wrapped Lilly in a towel and walked around holding and talking to her, begging her not to die. It was awful. He lashed out at Colton, saying it wasn’t fair. Colton only got Diamond because he wanted Lilly, so it should be Diamond dying. Now, Colton cried. When DJ, my youngest son, saw all the tears he joined in. It broke my heart seeing Dalton so upset and I couldn’t do anything. Or could I?

The most humane thing for everyone was ending the suffering. Alone with Lilly, I wrapped the towel around her head to suffocate her. But the second she squirmed, I let her go. I took a deep breath and reminded myself the purpose was to end Lilly and Dalton’s suffering. I tried again. Nope! She wiggled I let go. By the third attempt I accepted the fact I couldn’t do it.

Now I was crying. When my husband appears I told him I was a horrible mother because I couldn’t kill a rodent to end my son’s pain. He looks at me like I just dropped out of a UFO and said, “There has got to be a better way.”  He says that to me a lot.

Dejected and feeling like the worst mother in the world, I went to comfort Dalton as best I could. Sometime during the night Lilly died, and we buried her the next morning. A few days later, Diamond got sick, and we started the entire process over. Well, not the entire process. I didn’t bother trying to take Diamond out. And my Mom died years later, never knowing the truth.

“Mom!” Dalton yells. “You tried to kill my guinea pig?”

“Yes, for you honey.”


“You were so upset I wanted to help you.”

Days after we had that conversation Dalton called me “Mom, I’m calling to tell you that I’ve told several of my friends about Lilly and we all think you’re crazy.”

“It’s not like I was trying to kill you. And what about the part where I couldn’t do it.”

“That’s the part where you’re a good mother.”

“You’re the one that wanted to share stories.”

“Yeah. Share not scare!”

Posted in funny, Tuesday Tales

When Email Goes Awry

I think it’s important to always keep a sense of humor. Laughter decreases stress hormones and releases endorphins which make us feel good.  I’m starting a new blog group titled Tuesday Tales. I’ll share some of my crazy antics, past and present. If you have a funny story you want me to share email me at jmariegvs@gmail.com. If your story needs names changed to protect the guilty I can do that. Since my tales tend to be quite colorful I’ll break ya’ll in easy.

My father-in-law and I tend to get into mischief.  We don’t do anything really bad but we think we’re hilarious and that’s usually where the trouble begins.

Years ago when Steve and I first got married we lived in Nicholasville and didn’t see my in-laws as frequently as we do now.  Steve set up email accounts for his Dad and me and we emailed on a regular basis.

Anyone who knows me knows I am anything but tech-savvy.  At work, the IT department spent the vast majority of their time at my desk muttering things like, “how did you get it to do that?” They called for backup. Sometimes the backup called for backup. Other times they made me leave.  But how hard is emailing, right?

My father-in-law and I emailed each other jokes we found online.  I don’t recall what joke I sent to set this in motion.  But I got a response along the lines of, “why are you sending me this?”  I thought it was odd it needed explaining but he’s all old and stuff.  So, there’s that.

The next day I got a follow-up email on my explanation reading, “Who are you?”  Oh, I get it now. He’s playing a little game of pretending he doesn’t know who I am. I’ll play along.  Meanwhile, on a daily basis, I said to Steve, “You’re Dad is so funny.”  But I never fully explained the statement.  He didn’t question me because as I said, his Dad and I are always up to something.

Around day four of the back and forth I received an email stating, “Who are you and why do you think I’m interested in this?” I respond with, “It’s your favorite daughter-in-law.”

He responds, “I don’t have a daughter-in-law.” Now, normal thinking humans would pause and consider the situation.  However, I’ve never claimed normalcy. And that’s why the conversation unraveled.

“I don’t have a daughter-in-law.”

“Well, you better call the police because I’ve been sleeping with your son for the last six months.”

“Lady, my son is six years old and you better stop emailing me.”

No need to tell me the last part.  I not only wouldn’t email him again but contemplated tossing the computer out the window.  Not understanding technology I imagined the man sending police to my house, me registering as a sex offender, and my “most wanted” picture at the post office when I refused.

“I’ve done something bad.”  My exact words when Steve walked in.  When he finished laughing he assured me I wasn’t going to jail for cyber molestation and showed me the single different letter between my father-in-law’s email and the random stranger.

The moral of the story? Make certain you’re inappropriate jokes go to the person as crazy as you are.


Posted in In The News

The Blood is Yours Harry

The all-knowing Harry got himself punked. Too obtuse to see the plethora of red flags, he turned into a Chatty Cathy. He revealed himself as a disturbed, arrogant child. His rudimentary knowledge of coal set me off.

I live in Kentucky. Unlike egotistical nonsensical Harry, I know about coal. Coal is to Eastern Kentucky what actors are to Hollywood. We have the most mines in the country. Closing coal mines means literally wiping out entire communities. Those who don’t starve to death or commit suicide will turn to government assistance. Not only are we the fifth largest coal producer, but we are also the fifth poorest state.

Thanks to politicians robbing Peter to pay Paul, Kentucky is in financial crisis. Much needed support and programs are being cut. My son DJ is special needs. Kentucky doesn’t have the funds to help parents of special needs kids remain in the workforce like other states. Therefore, I left my lucrative job to care for DJ. The lost income forced my husband to work three jobs. Our four other sons were under age 11.

DJ spent more time in the hospital than out and I got cancer. The loss of my job meant losing excellent healthcare coverage that would have paid 100% of all medical bills DJ and I needed. I felt certain if the cancer didn’t kill me, the stress would. It took almost 20 years to crawl out of those black days.

Harry wants to take my personal tragedy, amplify it by ten and inflict it on over 700,000 Kentuckians all in the name of climate change. While Kentuckians lose everything, Harry will be private jetting around the globe on Daddy’s dime and British taxpayer money giving million-dollar speeches to fracking supporting companies.

Pikeville proves Kentucky can escape the coal mines. Once known as a coal town, Pikeville now thrives in the medical field. How? A wealthy man put his money where his mouth is and rallied support from others. He turned around a struggling hospital and built a medical college. Knowing the key to success is investing in people, hospital employees enjoy free healthcare and great pay. That is the epitome of being committed to your cause.

You going to do that Hollywood Harry? Are you so committed to an anti-coal world you’ll sacrifice your mansion, private jets, overpriced clothes, celebrity hob-knobbing, and million-dollar speeches? I didn’t think so.

So, in the words of your little BFF Greta Thunberg, “How dare you!” How dare you think you know all the answers. How dare you contribute nothing but take everything. How dare you devalue people. How dare you present as climate control pious while raking from fracking supporting companies. Most of all, how dare you attack my state, my people, when you have never stepped one designer shoe here.

You sit on your holier than thou throne in your privileged life, calling for the destruction of thousands of lives. That Nazi costume you wore wasn’t a costume at all. It was an expression of a warped sense of self. You have the audacity to attack our president for preserving lives, yet you’re too spineless to walk the coal mines as you did the landmines. The only one with bloody hands is you, Pontius Pilate.


Posted in Letters, Royal Family, Uncategorized

A Letter To Meghan

Dear Meghan Markle, I heard you’re just existing not thriving. I get it. It’s like my life with my youngest son DJ. IMG_0196

DJ is special needs and can’t speak. And you? Well, no one can get you to stop speaking.

You love yoga workouts. DJ requires speech, occupational, and physical therapy every week. That’s in addition to working with him daily.img_0942

Like you DJ has a chef at his beck and call – me. He can’t chew so every meal must be pureed. Doctors said surgically inserting a feeding tube would make my life easier. But it’s not about me. It’s about DJ and providing him every opportunity to grow and learn new skills. I mean what sort of mother neglects her child to promote herself?

 You have a multitude of people to bring you any meal you’re hankering for. If someone didn’t cook, blend, and feed DJ he would die. He has zero ability to survive on his own.

You love buying ridiculously priced clothes. A few years ago, we pushed DJ through the mall in a wheelchair so he could point at clothes he liked. Everything he picked came off the clearance rack. He may be special needs but he’s smart enough to know how to get the most bang for his buck. img_0930-1

Sky-high heels are to you what orthotic braces are to DJ – a necessity.

Cute little Archie will need diaper changing for about three years. I’ve been changing DJ’s for nearly 20 years.  I gold medaled in diaper changing. img_0944-1

 Working the logistics of private jetting around the world with a baby is exhausting. It’s like me in a public restroom trying to determine the cleanest part of the floor to change DJ on because he’s too big for baby changing tables.

 And nannies! Wow! It is so hard to get good help these days. We rely on DJ’s brothers and my eighty-year-old in-laws to give us a periodic break.

Those posh resorts really take a toll. DJ has literally been in the hospital about 100 times. We keep praying for a financial windfall so we can fulfill his dream of a Disney Cruise.


IMG_0941DJ is fully dependent upon me for basic hygiene. You know what that’s like. You depend on your hair, make-up and wardrobe entourage.

I can relate to you dragging Harry around. DJ’s legs don’t fully straighten, so he needs assistance ambulating. He can’t run and jump and can only walk short distances.


img_0933Frustrated you couldn’t speak up for yourself you employed your friends to do it.  DJ’s friend is a speech device he carries around his neck. It only speaks what we program. He has no way to express original thoughts. He desperately wants to express himself. He gestures and babbles and I try to decipher what he’s saying. I call it DJ charades.

This has been my day every day for 19 years. You’ve been a Royal for nearly three. And you know what? DJ and I are thriving!


You chose your life. But life chose us. So, don’t you come at us with your nonsense. You’ve not the first inkling about hard living!

You want to thrive? You want positive press? Then stop acting like a spoiled brat!! It’s your JOB to honor Royal traditions and serve the British people. No one asks if you’re okay because anyone who thinks they’re entitled to take money for a job they refuse to do is clearly not okay. You will never be okay as long as you remain willfully obtuse. It’s time you ask yourself the question DJ answers every single day. Are you pitiful or powerful? Because you can’t be both.







Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Faith, parenting

Disciplined with a Shake in His Stride

Many employers suffer a grave loss of which they are unaware. They shy away from hiring prospective employees because they are on the autism spectrum. The mere words autism spectrum conjures images of inept social skills, stark refusal to follow instructions, bursts of fury, refusal to take correction or responsibility and more. Amid, such a tsunami of negativity it is no wonder they drown out the positives. Yet, even as toddlers, there is a lot we can do to help our kids secure a job. We need to learn to recognize and respond to the potential.

Prior to Annie Sullivan’s arrival, Helen Keller had no discipline. She prowled her family home, doing as she pleased and responded to attempts of refusal with violent outbursts. Her parents labored under the misconception that allowing Helen’s atrocious behavior expressed love. Lucky for Helen a fiercely determined, courageous, half-blind teacher understood the roots of love begin in discipline. And discipline blooms from the small things.

IMG-2425I was nervous about my son Colton’s first involvement with STRIDE (Supporting Therapeutic Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities every day. I knew it was a fantastic program, but it forced me out of my comfort zone. It challenged me to face my fears even as I sought to still Colton’s. I had to swallow my pride, accept I wasn’t the only one able to care for my son and get myself out of his way. He was evolving. Pandering to my fears placed me between the kid he was and the man he’d someday be

This week, Colton started his first job. It’s a goal he’s pursued for several years. He has worked for family, friends, and neighbors but has been unsuccessful in the traditional job market. Until now.

Like most on the spectrum, Colton excels at repetitive tasks. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t advise the fast-paced and often stressful environment of restaurant work. However, food prep at Steak and Shake is ideal. Colton’s job is to remain in one station and chop, weigh, bag and otherwise prepare food for use the next day. He is able to work at his pace, somewhat segregated from other employees, spared from the hustle and bustle of peak hours, does the same thing daily and works off a list. An Asperger kid’s dream!

STRIDE members encouraging Colton at work

One of the greatest hindrances to kids on the spectrum is fear of the unknown. Doing things for the first time is scary for most but debilitating for some on the spectrum. Colton didn’t have that hurdle. He had an idea of what to expect because STRIDE taught him the basics of food preparation years ago. When we faced our fears and trudged the painful path of discipline and self-discovery in STRIDE, we had no inkling of what it would bring. The dividends of that years old investment are evident today. Colton loves his job at Steak and Shake. His self-esteem has grown exponentially because his coworkers lavish him with praise, kindness, and encouragement.

Colton explaining his job & encouraging his friends.

Times have changed a lot since the days of Helen Keller. But a child’s need for discipline has not. The world’s expectations of our kids tend to be low. It’s our responsibility to be the Annie Sullivan our kids deserve. We must love them through our pain so they may be a valuable productive member of the workforce and the community at large.


Visit http://www.winchestersun.com for more of Joan’s columns

Posted in Celebrities, domestic violence, In The News

Dan Wooten Attacks Victims of Domestic Violence

The Johnny Depp lawsuit against Amber Heard should be important to every decent human. Domestic violence is a nasty disease that is only eradicated by spotlighting it. For far too long, the world labored under the misconception that only women are victims. Yet, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states 1 in 9 men experience severe physical abuse.

With numbers like that, you’d think people like Dan Wooten would want to bring positive attention and reflection. Unfortunately, Mr. Wooten felt a personal attack on Johnny Depp, coupled with an elevation of himself, was more valuable than bringing awareness. For someone who vowed to not talk about Johnny Depp, Mr. Wooten sure has a hard time shutting up about him.

Mr. Wooten’s self-serving opinion neglects every major point in the case. But of all the things Mr. Wooten said, the most outrageous is calling Johnny Depp “a pathetic excuse of a man.” The venom in his woefully ignorant words is why male victims of domestic violence don’t come forward.

Mr. Wooten’s attempt to emasculate Johnny Depp reflects only his poor example of manhood, not Johnny’s. Attacking male victims feeds the violence. In her own voice we heard Amber Heard taunting Johnny, telling him no one will believe he is a victim of domestic violence. She and Mr. Wooten must share the same playbook. Like the worst bullies on the block they wield shame as a sword. She says a real man would engage in physical altercations not leave the violence as Johnny does. These degrading attacks on the masculinity of an abused man are why so many suffer in silence until the relationship concludes in deadly violence.

In 2016, a woman murdered her two teenage daughters to get back at her husband. In 2012, Shayna Hubers bragged about giving her boyfriend a nose job when she shot him in the face. Jodi Arias stabbed her boyfriend 27 times in a jealous sex fueled rage. Each of these men were victims of chronic verbal and physical abuse. That’s only three of the 155,000 cases Mankind.org reports in America.

There is no room for Mr. Wooten’s male ego, misguided sense of justice, self-promotion, or infatuation with Amber Heard. His attention seeking behavior of inserting himself into this litigation is startling. The case doesn’t involve him or the UK. The case stems from Miss Heard’s op ed in the Washington Post. Obviously, he knows nothing about the overwhelming evidence that Amber Heard, at best, is a sensational liar with untreated mental health issues that manifest in bursts of violence.

Instead of playing as a victim of Johnny Depp, perhaps Mr. Wooten should focus on male victims of domestic violence. There are 174,733 in the UK. He should start there.