{ i invite you to have a cupcake! }

cupcakes, for my family, symbolize celebration. something good for us. whether we are celebrating a new season or individual success, cupcakes truly make any situation better. and i would say that it is true for the good news i’m about to share. after being homeless for 5 1/2 months we received wonderful news! yesterday, i got the phone call. i have been accepted into a transitional living program! there is much reason for balloons, streamers, bright lights, pinatas, and cupcakes! after searching for a place to call home, we now have somewhere to rest our heads at night. though it isn’t quite our own apartment lifestyle that we are used to, i can call it h.o.m.e. that’s been so important to me for the past few months.

this particular transitional home is Christian based. their program runs 6 months to 2 years. i estimated that i could save approximately $16,000 in the next two years by sticking to their individual budgeting. while that means i will have to learn to be frugal, it also means that i would have at least a year and a half of payments saved towards renting my own apartment again. it also means that i will be able to work on repairing my credit diligently. there are youth programs, on campus, for both children. i will continue to homeschool Scout. transportation is available throughout the day and for Jem to get to and from school. i haven’t seen the individual apartments, though i have toured the other parts of the property and am very impressed. i am told that each apartment is essentially a studio apartment without the kitchen (because they are located in the foothills of the mountains, they do have problems with rodent infestation so they do not allow residents to cook/bake in their individual apartments, but they do provide meals and snacks).

i’ve been dreaming about this for a while. next Wednesday, at 1 p.m., is our move in date. we will have comfortable beds. a place to put our things. i won’t have to tote my things to and from storage three times a day. most importantly, i will be with my kids. we are reuniting as a family again, and that makes my heart feel good again. i can not wait to put sheets on my bed. or to watch Scout discover the wilderness that will surround us. i can’t wait to put a welcome mat outside my door. or to have somewhere to sit without being in one’s way. i can’t wait to be able to cozy up with the kids and watch a movie from beginning to end (all in the same day). or to take a shower without being interrupted.

things are looking up for us. i thank God for giving us a second chance. now onto the celebration…


2013 here i come…

as tumultuous as 2012 was, and has been, i am secretly looking forward to the New Year. secretly daydreaming of the days yet to come. you see, i have these big goals stirring in my head. i want to start new things. i want to finish old. somewhere deep down in my heart and soul i need to erase the past couple of years, of the bad decisions i made on my part. i have a few new dreams. and a couple of opportunities that beckoned.

my dreams of 2013

1.  complete reading goals: 52 books in 52 weeks (includes youth novels read to Scout)

2. start a monthly Kids Craft Club at our local library

3. commit to volunteering to knit hats for preemie babies (haven’t decided on which charity i will work with)

4. continue volunteer work for animal shelter (goal: 4 hours/week)

5. put together cupcake recipe book

6. finish semester #2 of year 2 towards my AA in Animal Sciences

7. knit my top 5 favorites on Ravelry:

a. framed pullover

b. Celestite

c. Coastal Hoodie

d. Sock Yarn Sweater

e. anything from Rebecca Danger’s new book Knit a Monster Nursery

8. join a 5K marathon in 2013

9. weight loss goals: 2012 i lost 29 pounds. 2013 i hope to lose 37 pounds

10. start working with a new church (for personal reasons)

11. with tax return:

a. pay mom back $500

b. pay back college fees $230

c. buy a new camera : a canon eos rebel t3i

d. start a fund for Scout

12. happily celebrate the year with my little family:

a. take our first family vacation

b. spend a weekend at Disneyland (Thanksgiving weekend 2013)

13. put my dreams on paper, yarn, fabric…focus on my art

365 days

it really has been an entire year since i’ve posted. 

twelve months. fifty two weeks. three hundred sixty five days.

some of the past year has been a disaster.

  • i started the year off needing to get a Restraining Order against the guy i was dating. the middle of the year was spent trying to put back the puzzle pieces of the life that Shawn and I was once shared. and the end of the year was me grieving because of the heartbreak of a man i thought i could trust for the rest of my life.
  • i tried going back to school in the Fall. i’d started out with 12 units which dwindled to 9, to 6, to 3, and then to none. i disappointed myself more than i could imagine.
  • in October i lost my apartment. a week later my car was impounded. some of it was due in part to the lack of Shawn’s financial stability in regards to child support. some of it was due to my bad choices. the end result was that the kids and i moved our belongings to a 5 x 10 storage and lived in a motel for seven weeks and my mom’s beat down RV with no electricity or water for a week.
  • i kind of lost my mojo. i was hospitalized three times. i stopped knitting for five months. i became too dependent on those little yellow pills that carry a short term cure for relieving anxiety. i lost 42 lbs this year, mostly from working out and walking more but also from the great amount of stress i’ve been dealing with on a daily basis.
  • Jem was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. he refuses to take any medications for the hyperactivity. he’s gotten much more physical and violent towards me and Scout. dealing with the middle school system was a nightmare, but high school has been worse as he’s been ditching classes after getting into an altercation in gym class. i question my parenting abilities much more now that he’s fourteen and hitting puberty.

but then some of the year has been absolutely spectacular:

  • Scout and i celebrated Christmas together at Disneyland, last year. it was a magical day. her big brown eyes lit up at the sight of Mickey Mouse. she laughed and giggled with other little girls while standing in hour long lines. she fell asleep on the way home, still holding on to her lit up balloon. it was well worth wearing the wrong shoes to walk in and the two bags of Goofy Gummy Ears that i ate.
  • i’ve spent more time giving back through my church. i joined the Women’s Ministry. i volunteered to teach arts and crafts during the week long Vacation Bible School that our church organizes every year (two hundred children this summer). sometimes i spend time with the homeless that come to our church Pantry when they come to pick up their baskets of food.
  • i’ve spent more time with getting to know Scout. she’s become a very grown up five year old girl. she doesn’t mind rescuing snails and making homes for them in a box filled with grass. she’s learned to make friends with different children despite an onslaught of racist and ignorant comments that have come her way. she makes the people she meets smile, whether it’s the bus driver, the grandparent volunteer who reads stories at our local library, or even her new Kindergarten teacher. i admit that the beauty she exerts makes me cry at times.

what dreams may come:

  • i was a week late but i was able to register in the Veterinary Technology program at my local community college and resume the courses that i didn’t finish from about ten years ago. i’m enrolled in 12 units, all of which i can take while Scout is in school and not have to worry about who will watch my kids so i can go to class and study. this is the opportunity i have been looking for to finish school.
  • i found a room for rent in the old neighborhood i lived when i met Shawn. there are a few obstacles that need to be tackled: my roommate and i didn’t know we could only have three people in the household. another is that the management company apparently wants to run my credit. obviously i’m hesitant about both. while i’m searching for placement for Jem, i really don’t know if i can find support fast enough. and i know that my credit is not up to par considering some of the financial choices i’ve made in the past year. i’m trying to remain hopeful that we will be able to sort everything out and that we can move past this, quickly.
  • i committed myself to volunteering for an animal rescue for the next six months. i will be helping to find homes for rescued animals in the Los Angeles area. 
  • i’m determined to learn from my mistakes and work past them this coming year. i want to keep my home. i want to continue my education. i want to separate myself from negative people and live a more positive life. 

after all. i have another three hundred sixty five days to change.

All That Matters

Spring break is almost over.

The weather can’t decide between windy and warm or cloudy and cold.

We have been spending more time eating out for dinner. It gives us more time to enjoy the Spring afternoons.

I take naps earlier in the morning so Scout and I can spend the afternoon making chalk art on the walkway. Sometimes we just color with whatever medium is closest to us.

I took off a little too much time from the gym. I feel bad about that.

I studied quite a bit of my Western Civilization book. Not so much studying of Poli Sci or Women’s Studies.

I finished reading House Rules by Jodi Picoult.

I started an herb garden and planted some very pretty Gerbera daisies.

I’ve been feuling my unhealthy stash obsession.

And fabric obsession.

Where’ve You Been?

If I wanted to lie to you (and I would never do that) I would tell you that I’ve been travelling Europe. Or maybe I took an extended vacation and just forgot to put up the “Gone Fishin'” sign. The truth is that life has a way of creating chaos just when you think you’ve gotten things in order.

School has been going along just fine. We are well into our fifth week and I had my first real exam for Western Civilization yesterday. I wrote about 3 1/2 pages for two essay questions and ended up leaving that class early. Only to sit in the cold winds, waiting on a bench, catching up for next weeks History reading. Who knew there’d be so much reading? (Chuckles.)

And, true to my word, I’ve been hanging in there when it comes to the gym. I’ve had five personal training sessions and guess what? Since mid-January I’ve lost a whopping fourteen pounds! There, I said it. Fourteen. And it feels great. Though the downside is that all the clothes I recently bought are already hanging a bit loose, especially in the waist and thighs. The upside is that I’ll just have to force myself to buy some new clothes soon. (Insert evil laugh.)

I am also continuing my sewing classes. In fact, I finished a dress (for myself) two weeks ago but since our normally everything-is-so-lovely-type weather hasn’t been so lovely I haven’t had time to get any pictures of me in it. (Truth be told, today is the first time I’ve picked up my camera in a few weeks. I don’t know why.) Anyhow, for all you non believers out there, I do have a photo (a teaser if you will) of Scout’s Easter dress for this year. I just need to finish the neckline and hem the ruffle. I might even add a black satin bow to it (because everyone in my sewing class told me it would be “sew cute”, get it?).

My knitting has been quite minimal, which I guess could be an indication to the name of my pattern: The Minimalist Cardigan. I haven’t had as much free time as I thought I would. You wouldn’t believe how busy three college classs can really make you. I’m proud to say, though, that I am working on my second sleeve and I’m really looking forward to start the finishing. My Ravelry queue is looking rather dreary. My yarn bins are starting to flood over into the rest of the closet. (Sshhh, don’t tell Shawn. He might think I don’t need yarn.)

But don’t worry, life isn’t all homework, twelve page papers, studying til 2 a.m., and running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. I am currently working on two swaps, one for embroidery and another for Easter. I am also finding my place at the embroidery shop (I even went so far as to buy my second canvas though I’m not done with my first). I’ve had a couple chances to catch up on my fully loaded DVR and watch some good old classics that TCM has been playing and we’ve watched a few horror flicks from Blockbuster.

And I’ve even made time to welcome this little guy to my new collection:

So that’s where I’ve been in my life. Everywhere and anywhere, you name it. But I’ll be back. Don’t you worry. I’ve got a lot in the works, behind the curtains.

Work Week

Ever have one of those days where you are working around the clock to keep up with a schedule to the minute? How about two weeks of non stop working around the clock?

That’s what’s going on in Casa de AJ.

  • I started school last Tuesday. I am still on the waitlist for my Western Civilization history class. (It’s a very long story. I won’t bore you with the details.) But I am enjoying my classes. It’s a lot more work than I ever remembered. Then again it’s been six years since my last graduation.
  • I also restarted my sewing classes last week. My machine and I don’t have much of a love affair right now. I’m currently working on a turquoise mini tunic dress. I’m hoping I’ll have it finished tomorrow. And then it’s on to Scout’s Easter dress.
  • I am sticking with my gym work outs. Since last month I’ve lost about 10 pounds. I have to say that I feel so much better now that I’m eating better. I’m still sore with the work outs but I really enjoy it. (How many people can say that?)  Plus I can go swimming in a pool that’s actually heated. (Our apartment building boasts a heated pool but Shawn and I joke that the pool is actually “solar heated”.)
  • Slowly, but surely, I’ve been working on my embroidery. Nothing to show you right now though.
  • I finished reading Wicked and Someone Knows My Name. I’m currently reading The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
  • I’d like to say that I was actually knitting but my Minimalist Cardigan has been sitting by the wayside. I am working on the sleeves. Slowly. And my Ravelympics projects? Well, I have the yarn. Now if I could find the time.

{Sundara Fingering Cashmere Merino in “Sardinia”.}

The. End.

Technically the end is tomorrow, but this will be my farewell to 2009 post. I wish that I could come up with this profound post that will put good thoughts in your heads and your hearts.

The truth is that life has been somewhat lackluster and dull here. No really. The most drama we’ve had here is having to deal with snot nosed teenagers and irresponsible dog owners. That and a cold from hell. I’ve been off balance with a headache, my jaw is tightened up by my TMJ, I have sneezing fits that make my throat sore…

You get the idea.

I’d like to say that the end of the year was wrapped up nice and neat like a gift under the Christmas tree, but the past week has been nothing more than a readjustment to being depressed, ill, and isolated with two children who are always bored.

But there has been good. Honestly.

Like the yummalicious yarn that I received from Sundara. (Even though I need to admit there has been little to no knitting lately. I seem to be on a self imposed break.)

Rogue has been getting bigger and healthier. She knows her “sit” and “stay” commands now. And she still likes to nibble.

And of course, I have plans for 2010. I don’t want to call them Resolutions, as the tradition would go. They are plans. Real plans.

  • I have joined the NaKniSweMoDo group on Ravelry. I plan on having twelve brand new sweaters this year. All handknit for me. (And one for Shawn.)
  • I am participating in round two of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks group on Ravelry. I was only able to crank out forty one books this year (my goal was forty eight). In 2010 my plan is to crank out forty five books. I’ll be starting with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
  • I will be starting the Spring semester at College of the Canyons in February.
  • I plan on making me and Shawn a quilt. For us. Only us.
  • I plan on going to the 2010 Ravelry party at Unwind in January. (Last years party was awesome so I can only assume it will be even more so now that Namaste, Kristin Porter and the girls from Manos del Uruguay will be there.)
  • I plan on buying a bike. And using it.
  • I plan on customizing my first Blythe. Linkin and Celeste will stay stock, but Bailey is getting a full makeover.
  • I am going to start taking sewing classes again, hopefully starting in February.

So while so things are coming to an end, some things are going to be a new beginning. And even though the rest of my day is only going to consist of “Golden Girl” reruns, Campbell’s Bean and Bacon soup with some Saltines and finishing up “The Abstinence Teacher”, I can’t imagine a better way to end the year.

I hope to see you all here next year!

Til then, party one!