Letter of Intent Signing

As a result of the prom, we could not make it out to Indiana Tech for the first orientation and to have Jordan sign his Letter of Intent. Since I was not a recruited athlete like my husband when we went to college, I had no concept of what a big deal this was.

Well tonight, my husband made a big deal out of it for his son. The FireMarshall made a speech, congratulating his son, and then they signed Prince Jordan's Letter of Intent to play Lacrosse at Indiana Tech. I had no idea how rare Lacrosse scholarships are, but The FireMarshall did and he made a big tadoo out of it.

I took pictures, champagne was poured and toasts made to Prince Jordan & his future. It was great to see my men beaming...one a proud father, the other an excited & beaming son. Makes a momma's heart just skip a beat.

Congratulations Prince Jordan!

Hidden Frustrations About Access to Health Care

It is a well documented fact that almost 46 million Americans are without health insurance. It is discussed almost daily in the news and is a major political platform. The primary reason cited for people not having any or adequate health insurance is because of affordability. It is just too expensive for the average person who is not covered by a group plan provided by an employer.

I agree, to an extend, that comprehensive health insurance is expensive. Furthermore, most Americans only know about COBRA (which IMHO is a bold face lie that it is cheaper than individual health insurance). Truth be known, COBRA is the most expensive coverage known to man. For example, when I was recently laid off from my employer, part of my severance package was I was able to keep my health insurance at the employers group rate - $250 - for a period of time (which included dental, vision, AD&D). After that, I had to elect COBRA or go without. The same plan, under COBRA was $1500/month. I don't know who "they" think can afford that (so that I don't have a lapse in coverage), but I wasn't one of them. So, when people say they have to choose between eating/having a roof over their heads and medical coverage; most people choose daily survival stuff and pray that nothing really bad happens in the interim.

Beside the expense of health insurance, I would like to postulate that there are other issues, just as significant & important, that contribute to why so many Americans don't have health care coverage:


The average American does not have enough knowledge & understanding of the health care engine to be able to navigate the system...through no fault of their own. It is a complicated industry with more acronyms than the military and more fine print/clauses than a mortgage contract. I've been in the business of health care (sales side) for almost 20 years and I still find it challenging.
Did you know that there are ways/places to get health insurance besides utilizing COBRA? You can go directly to a Health Insurer. You can utilize a search service such as ehealthinsurance.com that will show you all the plans available to you in your geography. You can work directly with a health insurance broker. If self-employed, you can to to an organization like the National Association of the Self-Employed and look into joining their group plan. If you qualify, you can apply for state plans or managed medicaid plans.

Now that you know where to look, you need to do your due diligence (comparing plans & benefits). Do you even have a rudimentary knowledge & understanding of medical plan terms to make an informed decision? Do you know and understand these terms and what they mean to you and your family?
  • The difference between a HMO,PPO, Indemnity Plan, Network Plan, HSA Plan?
  • The difference between & meaning of deductible/annual-deductible, co-pay, co-insurance, lifetime maximum, exclusions?
  • Where to find (in the fine print) whether you are covered for mental health, chiropractic, ob/gyn, maternity, hospitalizations, surgeries, prescription drugs?

The combination of the above mentioned things and more determine how large or small your premium is going to be. I know what all of that means. I know where to look and what to look for. Yet, it still took me about 3 hours, once I selected/narrowed down it down to about 4 different options, to compare them all and comp up with the best combination of coverage & out of pocket expenses & provider flexibility that best suits our family's needs.


I doubt it, but if you did and you've found a plan...now you have to apply to the insurer and go before underwriting. This is where they get you.

  • How many of you actually remember every prescription, lab test, lab value, screening test, etc you ever had done going back 7-10 years?
  • How many of you have kept every medical invoice/bill and EOB (Explanation of Benefits) you ever got going back 7-10 years?

I bet hardly anyone.

So, here is what happened to me this week once I got to the application & underwriting part of this business. I did my research and chose a family plan from Any Excuse To Not Accept you unless your are in an employer group plan. I chose them because they had the right combination of benefits at the right price. I chose them because I have been with them under an employer plan since 2007. I was happy with it.

I fill out the application and try, to the best of my ability to answer their questions such as "In the past [7-10] years have you ever had a diagnosis, been prescribed medications for, been treated for ________________?" We are a relatively healthy family. Most of the time, I answered the questions - no. Anything currently going on or major, I put down on the application.

Two days later, a nurse from Any Excuse To Not Accept you calls and asks us follow up questions...taking a total of 2 hours to complete.

Yesterday, I get a notice that our application has been closed. No explanation, no nothing. I had to track down the number to the underwriters and find out what the story was.

We were not denied coverage...they just decided to close our application. I ask why. Now they don't come right out and call you a liar...they same that there were inconsistencies on your application. I apparently did not record on our application some things that were in the National Claims Database. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: But I answered ever question your nurse asked.
Underwriter: Yes, but there were inconsistencies.
Me: Where? Be specific In the answers to her questions or on the application.
UW: You were sent a letter. If you want to dispute what your doctor put down when submitting a claim then you will have to take it up with the provider and have them adjust the claim.
Me: Are you saying I have to review 10 years of records?

UW: Yes
Me: And how do I do that?
UW: You will need to call all of your providers and member services for all the plans that you had and ask them for the details
UW: It will be outlined in your letter.

I hung up. HARD. ARE YOU SERIOUS? I am supposed to get a list from every provider of health care for the past 7-10 years and review each ICD9 code they used? Do doctors even keep records that long? Am I supposed to pull my medical charts from every provider and do it myself? Do you know how much it costs to get a copy of your records? How do I, as a consumer, get access to this National Claims Database? YOU CAN'T. YOU DON'T. Since I'm already covered by those idiot, can't they just transfer me to the new plan. NO..that is a group plan - you are applying for an individual plan.

I spent four hours yesterday pulling off 2 years of EOB's off my current plans website (that is as far back as they even go). I also reviewed what records I still had & tried to piece together a COMPREHENSIVE medical history of every time we sneezed or got even a scratch. FOUR HOURS. I am considering just paying for copies of our medical records from our primary care doctors. I have an appointment with a broker. I've applied (took an hour to fill out this application) to another company.


I am so frustrated & hostile, you could fry an egg on my forehead. We are healthy and are having this much trouble getting coverage. Why not just use COBRA, you ask. Because it is TOO DAMN EXPENSIVE! This plan I applied for cost 1/3rd of the COBRA.

The underwriter made me feel like a liar and that our premiums aren't good enough. It became obvious to me that most plans only want to cover individuals/families that are so healthy that they have NO MEDICAL HISTORY at all - cause they never use the service. You see, that is how many companies make the profit margins that they do. They only insure who they deem super healthy, collect premiums and provide no services. A big win for them. Sucks for the average American. Health Insurers prefer larger employers because they can lump everybody together and mitigate their risk.

Denying health care & coverage is illegal...but they don't do that. They just close your application & send you a letter outlining the appeals process that, unless you have a PhD, you wouldn't have the ability to understand, let alone complete. Even if you did, you would be without coverage for months while appealing. Is it worth it?

I've ranted ad nauseum. Be an informed consumer. Educate yourself. Read the fine print or find someone to help you. Keep good records. Document everything - for life.

Here's to your health(care)...if you can get it.


Goodnight Moon

Fingernail Moon, originally uploaded by TheTravelDiva.

Fingernail Moon hanging in the sky. Goodnight Moon - my goodnight wish from me to you as I prepare for bedtime.

Prince Jordan Signs with Indiana Tech Warriors

The Indiana Tech Warrior's are excited to announce they have signed Jordan Steptoe to their men's lacrosse roster.

Steptoe is currently attending River Hill High School in Clarksville, MD. He developed his skills as a Goalie over the past 4 years with year round lacrosse camps, leagues and "Drill Thrills & Goalie Training" from University Lacrosse. He was selected to play on The Club "U" Varsity Elite Team with University Lacrosse and has participated in several tournaments including the Gait Cup, Top 16 and Elite 150.

Steptoe was the starting goalie for River Hills JV team and, as a senior, for the River Hill Varsity Hawks. In addition to his skill on the lacrosse field, he has been a People to People Student Ambassador, participated in the Lead America Criminal Justice program at Johns Hopkins, and holds the rank of black belt in Tai Kwon Do.

The commitment and passion Jordan shows for lacrosse and being a goalie has extended to his life in school. He has applied the same discipline and focus to his academics to secure his academic future. Once at Indiana Tech, Jordan plans on pursing a major in Criminal Justice.

For more information on Steptoe, contact Men's Lacrosse Head Coach Terry Nichter at TRNichter@indianatech.edu.


My Axe Murderer Friends

I have been very fortunate to have made the aquaintance of several people (both men & women) on these here internets. A few of them I have met personally, most I have not...and every single one's that I have met have been wonderful, beautiful/handsome people. 99% of the time, they turn out to be just like they are on their blogs. It takes time to get to know people, but through reading their blogs (AKA life stories) you get a sense of a person, their essence and unless they are bold face liars (and that mess eventually reveals itself with ignant ish) or some other crazy stuff - they turn out to be great people.

The FireMarshall affectionately calls my group of friends & acquaintances that I have met in Internet land - "My Axe Murderer" friends. Makes no difference that he has met personally a good portion of ya'll, he still teases me (even when he goes with me to events)...."Uh, huh. Going to hang out wit ya Axe Murderer friends again, huh? Let me check our life insurance policy before ya leave."

I hate him sometimes sumptin awful.

Well, I have recently added a new friend to my Goo.gl.e Rea.der and FB that I've been getting to know. She writes a lot about her spiritual journey and about "The Supreme's". I enjoy her stories. We FB chat about 24 and other things, just stuff. I sense that she is a kind and gentle soul that can pull out a shank (cause any woman with 3 girls and more hair than an entire wig shop has to be able to cut loose).

Queeny and I were commenting on FB back & forth over Easter when The Ten Commandments were on. I LOVE THAT MOVIE. I don't know why, I just do. I could be that it is just Charleston Heston & Yule Brenner in their heyday, but who cares. I can recite that movie almost by heart. A few days later, I got a message from Queeny that she saw the video in the store, thought of me and I had a surprise coming in the mail.

How friggin sweet, thoughtful & kind is that?

It arrived today. If 24 & Heroes was not on tonight, guess what I'd be watchin...Moses....MOses...MOOOOOSES!

What funny (or rather not surprising) is I find myself doing the same thing for my Internet friends...
  • I'm out shopping and see some sunglasses, pashmina or just about anything - I think of CreoleInDC - no telling what I see that triggers me thinking of her.
  • I was at West Point, and even though my girl, Kayla is in the Navy, I was frantic to find a gift for her.
  • I work my network, near & far, considering jobs, applying for some, working with corporate sponsors and I always think of Sissy, the Texas Twins (you know who you are) and others
  • I run and I think of my new fitness partners in crime - Robin, BK, GBaby and others. I'm always thinking of ways to improve our game.
  • I work in my yard, paint, tile or do anything handy and I think of my girl from HomeAtLastFarm - NO, I'm NOT gonna play that dame Farm game. STOP ASKING!

The list could go on, but suffice it to say, I love my Axe Murderer Friends. It is a pleasure knowing and getting to know even better all of you.

Queeny - Thank you! So very much! I (and my family) are going to enjoy this DVD Collectors Disk you sent. Now I don't have to wait till Easter to get my Ten Commandments on. You are blessing.

My Baby Maia's Baptism

This is for friends and family who were not able to make it to NY to bear witness to Maia Athena's Baptism...It was a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. Hey Maia..."You LOOK Greek." XXXXOOOOO from Aunti Lisa.


Randoms from a Greek Orthodox Baptism

- "My Baby Maia" (that's what we call Maia) was baptized on Saturday.

- My BFF Vfly (Maia's Momma) cracked me up when she produced a sheet of what to expect at a Greek Baptism so that nobody (at least on her side of the family) would be a shocked, confused, or weirded out when a couple things went down. Good thing, cause I might have broke the whole show up had I not been warned:
  • During the exorcism part of the ceremony (yeah, you read right) one of the godparents makes a renunciation of Satan on behalf of the baby, turns to the West and SPITS in token of his aversion to the Devil.
  • The baby is IMMERSED (I'm talking all da way - no sprinklin business) in water three times. THREE TIMES.
  • Some strands of the baby's hair is cut in a ceremonial tonsure. (Yeah, I gotta look that up too)

- I immediately told Vfly that "My Baby Maia" was not gonna be happy about none of this. NOT ONE BIT.

- She wasn't.

- I am such a tourist everywhere I go and always gotta see and touch stuff...why did I get snatched back cause I was trying to go behind the alter. (There was a room back there with cool stuff in it)....Ummm...

- Women are not allowed back there...not even on the top step to that room.

- It nearly killed me not to try and just lean in or stick my toe in...OHHHHH, I wanted to so bad.

- Why am I like that?

- I thought they said "some strands." Nobody said that we had to cut off four pieces - at each station of the cross.

- If you could have seen my BFF's face on the immersion 3x & hair cutting part - PRICELESS.

- Have you ever tried to dress a baby that has been totally covered in water AND oil? Slippery sucker.

- No, I did NOT drop her. Close doh.

- I swore I was not gonna get Maia dressed before the priests ran out of prayer to sing. I was positive they would have to start at the beginning.

- Undressing & Dressing "My Baby Maia" was my only job...I barely got that straight. Maia WAS NOT HAPPY AT ALL!

- Father John is the bomb diggity priest. I really liked him...he made us all feel like family.

- For a moment there..."I felt Greek."

- Yeah, I was cute and all, but nobody told me that I would be standing for 90 minutes on cold marble in 3 in heels. If I had to stand there 5 more min...


- I love a restaurant that has those bottomless wine glasses...every time I thought I was out of wine, it miraculously filled back up. Just fabulous.

- Nanny, Nanny Boo Boo. *Sticking out my tongue*

It was a beautiful ceremony!


Senior Lacrosse Day

Shout outs to GMa Sandy, GPa Joe, GreatGMa Willie, Sister Erin, Charlee & Cara as well as all of Jordan's friends that stood in the gap while The FireMarshall and I were out of town in NYC to attend the Baptism of "My Baby Maia". There are times when I want to trade up families... but this was not one of them.

Senior Lacrosse Day.

Thanks Ma!

River Hill High School Senior Prom

So, we survived the prom. A great time was had by all, the kids look fabulous & the parents had a great time too!

- The Prom Parent Picture Party was a HUGE hit. The parents staggered in at various times after 5pm and we had a slow start with the pictures cause two ladies were VERY late, but it went off without a hitch. Once we got the kids off, the parents hung around till about 9pm drinking wine, eating snacks and telling war stories. It was a blast! If you would like to see the invite I created for the parent party, drop me an email and I'll shoot it to you.

- Why did my son's date make a hair appointment at 3pm the night of the prom. ARE YOU SERIOUS. Limo arrived at 6pm, dinner reservations at 6:30pm. What time did she arrive to put on her dress? 6:15pm. I almost had a nervous breakdown.

- Why did my son's date wait till two weeks before the prom to order her dress and when it arrived the Saturday before the prom, it didn't fit (too big). She managed to get her mom's friend (whoever) to alter it a bit...but if that was the case, why did it take me about 10 safety pins to get that girl in her dress and to keep it on. I literally "sewed" that chile in her dress.

- Other than the "Date Drama" it all went off without a hitch. The kids arrived back at the house around 12am, changed, hung out, ATE AGAIN, and then went to the P3 (Post Prom Party) at the AMC Movie Theater. I don't know how long they stayed at P3, but I know around 3am I smelled wood burning...so they were all out back on the outdoor patio and were having a post prom bonfire in the fire pit. The FireMarshall and I got up around 5am and the house was silent with young men layed out in the basement "teen den" knocked out cold. I don't think they will get up until sometime close to game time tonight...perhaps Gma Sandy will fix em pannycakes.

Congratulations River Hill Seniors!


Prom Picture Party Prep

Roses for the table.

Celebration Arch for Pictures

Beverage Set up for Parents
Limo people called and said that the air conditioning was out in the car that they were sending...would we mind if they upgraded us to the stretch SVU? Ummm...no. We'll make due. Getting dressed now. Let the festivities begin.


Pre-Prom Ponderings

Wedding Centerpiece, originally uploaded by TheTravelDiva.

- As I sit here in the sunroom putting together a Pre-Lit Celebration Arch for our Parent Picture Party, I'm glad I put bird seed in the feeders...what a wonderful parade of happy, singing birds to assemble to.

- Finally, I got RSVP's from all the parents...and OF COURSE, they are all coming.

- This whole college thing is really starting to hit me.

- Why are some people so surprised that Jordan, of all people, was recruited and so many of the other kids were not. Adults HATING on teens - WOW!

- Why did my son's date wait till the LAST DAG ON MINUTE to get her dressed altered. Would that be because she waited till the week before to even order it. SMH

- I better get all that Limo money tomorrow. Parents gonna walk in and I'm just gonna have my hand out at the door. Pay before you play.

- If GMa Willie calls me one more time...I love the woman, but jeeze - for the love of all that is Holy, give me a minute. You'll see you Great-Grandson tomorrow. Yes, we are picking you up. Yes, we will give you pictures. Yes, I will put pictures on your electronic picture frame. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

- How many bottles of wine should I get? Snacks? I'm exhausted already.

- Better charge every camera battery in the house. Remember, we only have an hour for pictures before the limo is here.

- Kinda late to be asking me at 7:45pm the night before if I got your date a corsage and if I ordered something for you (or if your date should get it). Good thing I took the initiative, huh?

- Am I the only parent who give a damn or am I over the top?

- I think Imma pick up something special for me to drink all by myself. Something stronger than wine. Imma need it.

- We are planning on going over to The Mall to snap pictures at the restaurant...the boys wanted to have their own personal paparazzi. FUNNY!

- I'm going to be rolling from the time I get up till Prom is over. Maybe I should go to be early.

- Well, I've done as much as I can do in preparation for tomorrow.

For those of you with teenage sons/daughters...How is the Prom Season working out for you?


Thomas Rick @ Washington Post can BITE ME!

Washington PostApril 19, 2009 Pg. B4

Why We Should Get Rid Of West Point
By Thomas E. Ricks

Want to trim the federal budget and improve the military at the same time? Shut down West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy, and use some of the savings to expand ROTC scholarships.After covering the U.S. military for nearly two decades, I've concluded that graduates of the service academies don't stand out compared to other officers. Yet producing them is more than twice as expensive as taking in graduates of civilian schools ($300,000 per West Point product vs. $130,000 for ROTC student). On top of the economic advantage, I've been told by some commanders that they prefer officers who come out of ROTC programs, because they tend to be better educated and less cynical about the military.

This is no knock on the academies' graduates. They are crackerjack smart and dedicated to national service. They remind me of the best of the Ivy League, but too often they're getting community-college educations. Although West Point's history and social science departments provided much intellectual firepower in rethinking the U.S. approach to Iraq, most of West Point's faculty lacks doctorates. Why not send young people to more rigorous institutions on full scholarships, and then, upon graduation, give them a military education at a short-term military school? Not only do ROTC graduates make fine officers -- three of the last six chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reached the military that way -- they also would be educated alongside future doctors, judges, teachers, executives, mayors and members of Congress. That would be good for both the military and the society it protects.

We should also consider closing the services' war colleges, where colonels supposedly learn strategic thinking. These institutions strike me as second-rate. If we want to open the minds of rising officers and prepare them for top command, we should send them to civilian schools where their assumptions will be challenged, and where they will interact with diplomats and executives, not to a service institution where they can reinforce their biases while getting in afternoon golf games. Just ask David Petraeus, a Princeton PhD.
Thomas E. Ricks is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and author of "The Gamble," about the Iraq war from 2006 to 2008.

From the Director of Communications at West Point:

"As the Director of Communications at West Point, I feel compelled to respond. The cost to educate a student at a service academy is approximately the same as at any of the top tier universities, but the value is far greater than the cost.Our diverse nation needs diverse higher education opportunities and the service academies provide a unique experience that strengthens our nation.We provide not only 20% of the Army's second lieutenants, but also 60% of the officers with hard science degrees-and our Army needs those skills.Furthermore, our cadets, faculty and staff are actively engaged in supporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and West Point itself is a beacon of excellence that people around the country, indeed around the world, see as an example of all that is best in America: a truly national, egalitarian institution with a true belief in the values of duty, honor, country. I am not a graduate of West Point, but I don't want to live in an America without a West Point.Mr. Rick's article has 6 specific arguments to address:

Point 1. "service academies [are] more than twice as expensive as taking in graduates of civilian schools ($300,000 per West Point product vs. $130,000 for ROTC student).
"Rebuttal 1. A more accurate figure for the 4 year experience here is $202,000, which is equivalent to the 4-year cost of graduating a student from any of the country's top-tier universities . . . and those students generally take more than 4 years to graduate. And college and universities across the nation also receive funding from federal and state governments.An accurate cost comparison takes a lot more analysis than shown in this op-ed.

P2. "On top of the economic advantage, I've been told by some commanders that they prefer officers who come out of ROTC programs, because they tend to be better educated and less cynical about the military."
R2. I can't address this specifically, as this is his personal anecdotal evidence, but this has not been my experience in 29 years in the Army-and I was commissioned through Univ. of Mass. ROTC.

P3. "Too often they're getting community-college educations."
R3. Nothing against the many fine Community Colleges, but in the past year alone, three national organizations have ranked West Point in the top 10 of all 4,000 colleges and universities in the nation:. Forbes.com ranked West Point as the sixth best college or university in America as well as the most "surprising" pick-surprising even Mr. Ricks apparently . . . and West Point finished ahead of his alma mater, Yale . U.S. News and World Report says West Point is the "Top Public Liberal Arts College" [the Naval Academy was second] and has the fifth-best "Undergraduate Engineering Program" in the nation.. StateUniversity.com said West Point was the sixth best in the nation, behind only Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Cornell, and CalTech. (Again ahead of Mr. Rick's Yale.) Furthermore, in the past century West Pont graduates have been awarded more than 80 Rhodes Scholarships, 4th most in the nation behind only Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Just last year our Cadet First Captain Jason Crabtree was so honored.

P4. "most of West Point's faculty lacks doctorates."
R4. All of our faculty have advanced degrees, but approximately 50% are rotating faculty, active duty officers who do not have a doctorate. However, I challenge Mr. Ricks to actually walk around campuses of America's "elite"schools and see how many undergraduate classes are being taught by teaching assistants-smart, hardworking and dedicated, but usually without even a master's degree. There are no teaching assistants at West Point and the largest class here has 18 students-the Dean has to approve any class with 19 or more students.

P5. [Send to ROTC and] "they also would be educated alongside future doctors, judges, teachers, executives, mayors and members of Congress."
R5. West Point cadets ARE future doctors, judges, teachers, executives, mayors and members of congress. While their military successes are legendary, their impact on the civilian world is just as great.Currently, Dave Heineman is Governor of Nebraska; Rhesa Barksdale is a U. S.judge; William Taylor, Jr. is Ambassador to Ukraine; Fletcher Lamkin is President of Westminster College; Daniel Kaufman is President of Georgia Gwinnett College; Marshall Carter is Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange; Marshall Larsen is Chairman and CEO of Goodrich; and Michael Krzyzewski is the Duke basketball coach. And 6 members of Congress either graduated from West Point or were on the faculty.

P6. "We should also consider closing the services' war colleges . . . Just ask David Petraeus, a Princeton PhD."
R6. Mr. Ricks closing example is outrageous in an article with the headline "Why We Should Get Rid of West Point" as General Petraeus is both a graduate of West Point and a member of our what we call our second graduating class, having been an asst. professor here in the mid-1980's."


Clydes 31st Annual American 10K

Well, we did it. BK and the TravelDiva managed to run and finish the Clydes 10k. BK finished in 60min and I finished in 69min. Not anything to be excited about but for my first road race in a couple of years, I'm happy with it. I averaged an 11/11.5 min mile. I can only get better and get faster from there.

It was a lot of fun having someone to run with...even though I let BK have her legs and go ahead. It gave me something to run after - a bit of motivation to keep me moving. There was also a lot on the road that can keep you entertained as well...we call them SPECSHUL:
  • White tube socks that go all the way up to the tops of your knees.

  • Run skirts that are 2 sizes too small. Kept you wondering when that skirt was just gonna give up the ghost and rise up to your waist. What was the point again?

  • The man with the friar hair (bald on top with a ring of hair round the center)...he grew what hair he had long and then brushed it up and round to cover the bald spot. I couldn't help but be fascinated.

  • The running booty shorts. No matter how skinny I ever get, you will NOT catch me running anywhere 'cept round the house (on second thought -not even there) in those things. One word - CHAFING.

  • No sports bra OR not athletic supporter. That has GOT to hurt - your gonna give someone a black eye with those girls bouncing around like that and I really don't want to know that your manhood is not a direct correlation to your shoe size (at all). Keep the dream alive for someone PLEASE.

  • And here is a Tip...you are supposed to stink AFTER the race. Not before. I'm just sayin.

Well, I'm going to Bikram Yoga tomorrow to get my stretch & sauna all in one and then back training. Gotta work on my stride and speed. One thing I do know...I feel good.


Ret Ta Go

I'm Ret Ta Go for tomorrow's 10k run!

On The Ponderosa

Today was a busy day. We did a fundraiser for the Lacrosse Team where we paid a couple of c-notes to have about 10 Lax players come over and do all of your yard work for their service project. We powerwashed the deck, got all the furniture ready for spring/summer, the boys weeded, planted, mulched, cleared and pruned their little hearts away. They did a great job.

I was talking to CreoleInDC this afternoon and she had me hollerin as usual. She said, "Giiiiirllll, you be doing big things out there on the ponderosa."...and I could not help myself, but break out in the theme song. Didn't know that I was a big fan of Bonanza, didja?

I've been humming the theme song since I got off the phone with her. I think we are going to have to change the estate sign to read "Ponderosa" instead of "True Blessings Estate" LOL.

Here are some pictures of the handiwork these young men did:


Dandy Daffodil Thoughts

daffodil, originally uploaded by TheTravelDiva.

* Today was my last day at a job I absolutely hated & had no respect for for too many reasons to list. Thank you Jesus. And trust, we gonna be okay - at least that's what my man told me - and I believe IN him and in what he says.

* Everytime I begin to doubt that my dreams can come true after all these years of work and struggle, Imma channel me some Susan Boyle. If that woman can make her dreams come true at age 47 despite the doubt and ridicule of so many, then, without a doubt, so can I.

* Anybody who is that casual about their parties/events that they could care less if someone shows up on time or at all; doesn't give a damn whether the invites RSVP or not...well, not my kinda party people. Furthermore, I don't care if it is a printed invitation or an Evite...rudeness is rudness via paper or online. PERIOD.

* I keep the forest manicured at all times. And that's all Imma say about that.

* The Prince is going to college as a recruited athlete. We are so proud. Our bank account thanks him.

* Sometimes I wish I could just trade up and get new family, but where would the fun be in that. Perhaps the Black Sheep will finally realize that the Lambs got teeth. I doubt it though.

* Queeny has blessed me with a surprise! I SOOOO can't wait for it to arrive. It moves me to tears sometimes how complete strangers, except for our internet/blogging relationship, are more thoughtful, kind & sincere than people that know you on a regular. Why is that so?

* I'm running a 10k on Sunday with BK. Pray for us.

* I'm trying to come up with a luncheon favor for the April/May Birthday Luncheon. I'm at a loss right now. I'm sure I'll figure out something.

* My mother cracks me da hell up...she is an Angry White Woman...but she is funny as hell with it. How am I supposed to take the woman seriously - her and that damn dog.

* We went to Lowes today...gives me chexy chills just walkin in there. Me and my tool belt just shudder. AHHHH, I just love the smell of cut wood, lumber, sod & mulch in the afternoon. Yes, Lawd.

* I got 15 Lacrosse Players coming over to do my yard work tomorrow. This ought to be interesting.

* Next Friday is the Prom. Jesus be a Corsage.

So, what been shakin with you this week.


The Black Sheep At It Again

There seems to be so many black sheep in our family, that, to them, us little white sheep look like lambs to the slaughter. They just seem to forget that a couple of us lambs done got some cosmetic surgery and now have fangs and razor sharp claws. We fight back with a vengence.

So I'm minding my own business, doing some work in my office and I get a frantic call from my neice saying that her dad (turns out it was her dad's live in girlfriend) has taken her checkbook and wrote a $400 check out to Com.ca.st. What was she to do? The Lambs rallied the flock and immediately clamped down on the situation. My eldest and my neice ran over to the bank and NIPPED THAT MESS IN THE BUD. Checking account blocked, closed, new one opened, money given back...and...wait for it...the bank will be prosecuting for the money back. Seems that in this economy, the bank ain't gonna lose even $400 without a fight. Gma Sandy came up with the idea of calling Com.ca.st and informing them of the situation as well since they are about to be out of thier money PDQ (pretty damn quick).

The kicker...the girlfriend/thief left a message on my neices phone telling her not to say anything to her dad and that she would pay her back over the next 4 weeks. ARE YOU SERIOUS? What is wrong with these people that think it is okay to just steal a 16 year olds hard earned money without so much as a how do you do and then beg you not to say anything. What da hell!!!!

Sometimes I wish you could just get new family. SIGH.


I Dreamed A Dream

This is the most increadible thing I have ever seen in a long time. My spirit is lifited. I am renewed in faith & believe. I Dreamed a Dream...and I believe they come true...even for a 47 years old woman who lives alone with her cats in a small village - she had a dream and it has come true.



Using Only One Word

Where is your cell phone?

Your significant other?

Your hair?

Your mother?

Your father?

Your favorite thing?

Your dream last night?

Your favorite drink?

Your dream/goal?

What room are you in?

Your hobby?

Your fear?

Where do you want to be in 6 Years?

Where were you last night?

Something that you aren't?


Wish list item?

Last thing you did?

What are you wearing?


Your pets?


Your life?

Your mood?

Missing someone?


Your car?

Something you're not wearing?

Your favorite store?

Your favorite color?

When is the last time you cried?

Who will resend this?

Where do you go over and over?

Five people who email me regularly?

My favorite place to eat?

Favorite place I'd like to be at right now?

Four people I think will respond



Weekend Wandering Wonderings

* Those chocolates that I received as a gift. SLAMMING.

* After playing in my closet this weekend with a friend, I am entertaining the idea of this clothing swap party I saw on a news show. We had fun one on one...imagine the fun and great things we could share with each other. Thinking...

* I think the Angelic Steps did the Stanky Leg in the pulpit...shock & awe.

* That will teach ya to mess with an American Ship or an American ANYTHING. We may be short on some beans, but we got plenty of bullets. We was looking to kick somebody's azz anyway. ITCHIN' to whoop up on somebody. Ya'll walked right into to that smack down. Uh Huh.

* I know Pro thinks we are CRAZY, but I think he'd come back to play.

* Just cause you send me an email with a list of demands and things that need to be done right away...DON'T GET IT TWISTED...I am a volunteer. I do this ish for free. Guess what, player? NOT.

* It never ceases to amaze me just how rude and people can be when it comes to social etiquette. NO CLASS AT ALL. Do you really expect to be invited to anything ever again?

* Why does there always have to be just one critic. Didn't de momma ever teach them nuttin. If you ain't got nuttin nice to say. SHUT THE EFF UP!

* That recipie I tried for the first time today was DELISH!!!!

* Why did Cara do a wardrobe change today. She just HAD to wear both dresses & both pairs of shoes today. Wonder were she might have gotton that notion. LOL

* Why did my oldest (25yrs old) get her face all outta shape when I didn't get her an Easter basket, but made her hide the eggs & loot for Cara.

* One more week of doing something I hate. I could do 4years at West Point....I can do 7 days....I think. Perhaps not without shankin somebody.

* I have to run 6.2 miles next Sunday. It's going to be UGLY. I am not prepared at all. Sigh.

* I feel truly blessed.

How was your weekend?

How was your weekend


Easter Celebration in Photos

Happy Easter

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Have a Blessed Resurrection Day!

Decorative Napkin Folding - Easter Bunny

Just in case you are still looking for ways to dress up your dinner table, here is a video on how to create a bunny out of your dinner napkins. Happy Easter.

Signs of Spring

They say April Showers bring May Flowers. That might be true, I'm definitly ready for some serious spring weather with sunshine. Yesterday afternoon, I took some pictures around the yard...some Signs of Spring.


Not Ready for the Olive Branch

So, I spent a long time on the phone with a long time friend who tried to give me a new perspective on the Claymation Part 2 Rant. She tried to explain to me that the FireMarshall & I had been friends with this couple for so long that I should not have let something like this come between us. I should have not taken it so personally. That I should has evaluated the relationship over all of those years and given the benefit of the doubt...that what I took offense to; when I put it up against all of the years we have been friends, I should have known that they meant no harm and did not have the intention that I took it for.

I let that wash over me. I decided to think on what she said and to see if there was validity to her council...cause she is part of my Top Mafia...cause she is wiser than her years and I trust her. Her additional council was to convene a meeting with Jack or Jose Cuervo and see what clarity they might bring to the situation.

You know what, my Top Mafia counselor had a point. Jose made me calm. Perhaps I was a little hasty with the beat down. Perhaps I was a little fast on the draw with concluding a personal insult. I will admit that I have might have put some other past baggage on top of this situation and called it a final straw.

I don't know that I am at the point where I am ready to apologize though. If this was a situation where I had a falling out with one of my Top Mafia, I think it would have been an altogether different situation. See, I talk to my really good friends on a regular. I see my really good friends on a regular. Even the one's that are in different states. We have a line of communication that transcends borders and maintains a relationship.

That, my readers, is the difference. With the alleged claymation relationship, that friendship fell off the minute we stopped participating in "the business". You see, they had a lot to do. They had to focus on that and we had to be fitted in. I understand, but no matter how busy we have been, we have always been able to pick up the phone, email, or occasionally talk to our busy, life building friends. To me, there was a significant difference.

On top of that, I'm not a guy. I can't just pick up where I left of with you 6 years ago, as if nothing ever transpired. I've seen my husband do it. I can't. My flaw. I accept it and that is why I give attention to the relationships I want to maintain. For instance, we have friends that live on the West Coast. We love them, but don't get to see them hardly at all. I know that they read the blog, so I know we are communicating in a certain way. I also make it a point to send them notes/emails from time to time...cause I want to maintain a relationship with people we love. The FireMarshall had to be out their way in a couple of months and the first thing he said to me was "Let's go and stop in to see our friends, remind me to check and see if they are in." (They will know now, LOL)....My point with all that, is no matter how busy, no matter how stressed; we make the time for the people we love even if it is just an email saying "I'm thinking of you."

I'm just not ready to apologize for something I'm honestly not sorry for, yet. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I'd give it to any of my Top Mafia with no questions asked. I am a passionate, strong, opinionated woman. It comes across to some as emotional; to some as byatchy; to those who know and love me as having a passion for life and loving (maybe smothering) those with it. SHOOT ME.

It is quite possible that I read more into the situation than it was and went off the deep end for it. Anything is possible. But until we all can sit down together and get that elephant that is in the room OUT and the air cleared, I think we are going to be at an impasse.

What do you have to say?

First Dental Appointment

Princess Cara had her very first dental appointment today. Cleaning, Flossing...the whole nine yards and NOT ONE TEAR...NOT NER ONE. She was such a trooper...SMART & STRONG...something we share everyday. We are smart, strong & beautiful. I was so proud of my princess and her bravery at the dentist...a place which can send most adults to tears. As a result, I bought her two new dresses and two matching pair of shoes. GMa Sandy joined in the spending spree and the Princess got a new DVD, new Dora PJ's & and new stuffed duck that we call A.fl.ac.

Tomorrow, sister Erin & Charlee are decorating eggs with Princess Cara.


Check out my Princess at the dentist.


Have A Blessed Easter Weekend

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The Cat's Out The Bag

I officially tendered my two weeks notice yesterday. That dead weight is off my shoulders. I am so relieved. Don't worry - our ship is coming in. We are going to be okay, but for now, I'm a SAHW/M and all is right with the world.


Claymation & Friends - Part 2

Today my azz got a bit singed by a "friend"...but after the conversation...I'm thinking this is one of those Claymation relationships...where if you get to close, you just might get some 'mation all over ya. They smudge.

One of my friends got laid off from a major pharmaceutical company recently after close to 18 years there (sounds familiar). This person asks to see my resume...I show it to him. He asks me to send it to him...I do. When a recruiter called me to see if I knew of any people that would be a good fit for the position she was looking to fill...I sent her his contact information.

Long story short, I got a call today telling me that this individual did get the job and all is right with the world. My brow knitted. Why? Cause I just spent 20 min on the phone with his wife and she didn't say a damn thing to me. NADA. Just went on about how he was getting his certification to do nutrition consults and whatnot. I didn't think anymore about it. She said all was hunky dory...I believed her. Why shouldn't I? We are supposed to be friends (for close to 19 years - you would think).

I sent a text to my "friend" and asked him "If there was some good news that he wanted to share with me." He responded with this (which I will abbreviate):

From the military you'll recall that if you don't want something known, don't tell anyone...I never told anyone except [my wife], my kids, parents and [name removed] who referred me (it wasn't my name)...I still would appreciate you keeping it quite as I don't want to be bombarded with calls and resumes...and BTW you are one of the first that have confirmed [with].

So why did this message set my britches on fire?

1. You had no friggin problem "bombarding" me with questions and calls when you needed some help...you hand no friggin problem asking me for ish when you wanted something, but now that you GOT YOURS you don't want to be "bombarded with calls". Let me tell you something, GOD DON'T LIKE UGLY. And to me, that smacks of some selfish bullshyat.

2. We have known each other for close to 20 friggin years. We build a business together. We broke bread together. We shared in each others hardships and triumphs for years...right up to the time we decided to go on our own separate way and pursue a different dream than yours...then...well ya'll was busy- ALL THE DAMN TIME. But we never were. We tried (at least The FireMarshall did) to maintain contact - a relationship. When things started to get a little shaky at the job rancherero, we started hearing from you. Hmmmm. Okay. NOW we are not good enough friends to hear about your latest success. WHY? You think we would be out around the town blabbing and/or trying to hit you up for a save? Who we friggin gonna tell and if you asked us not to say anything then we wouldn't - WTF did you think we would do?

3. So, I'm the first one you confirmed the story with. Ummm, does that mean you been lying to everybody else so you wouldn't have to try and help or council anybody. That's some cold hearted shyat.

After thinking on it for a while, I decided to not let the matter drop. Too much silence has gone by between the four of us and if your wife is comfortable lying in my damn face about what's going on with your lives, we must not really be a part of it. Just so you know, NOT ONCE, did we lie or omit anything to you. NOT ONCE. Not while we where in business with you, not when we were planning to move on (we spent months transitioning our team to you), not when we started working on our new dreams, not when we had some successes. Perhaps you didn't really give a damn.

WHY? Was it because we were always just acquaintances? Was it because we really had one of those Claymation relationships. FAKE. I would be interested to know.

I told my "friend" the following: "Ya know, I just wanted to say, I'm not amused. Now that I know that [The FireMarshall's] are just acquaintances & not worthy of such news as we might blab and try to milk/use you for your new found success, [we] will behave accordingly."

I'm so disappointed. What's even worse...I don't think he will get my point of view AT ALL. Perhaps I'm all messy again. Practicing my skills as a Master Koolaid Swimmer -all up in their stuff. Perhaps. But this is how I feel about it. I got it off my chest and now (as Monnie would say) DING....I'm free to move about my life again.


Real vs Fake Friends

"Perfect people are really claymation, so watch out if you get close to them. They might smudge."-Monica Mingo of MonicaMingo.com

I think the same thing can be said for FAKE PEOPLE/FRIENDS...Here is some thoughts to help you sort it out.

FAKE FRIENDS never ask for food. REAL FRIENDS are the reason why you have no food.

FAKE FRIENDS call your parents mr/mrs. REAL FIRENDS call your parents mom/dad.

FAKE FRIENDS bail you out of jail and tell you wat you did was wrong.
REAL FRIENDS would sit next to you sayin. . "Dam. . We fucked up. . But that shit was fun!

FAKE FRIENDS have never seen you cry. REAL FRIENDS cry with you.

FAKE FRIENDS will leave you behind if thats what the crowd is doing.
REAL FRIENDS will kick the whole crowds ass that left you.

FAKE FRIENDS are for awhile. REAL FRIENDS are for life.

FAKE FRIENDS will talk shit to the person who talks shit about you.
REAL FRIENDS will knock them the fuck out.

Are you a claymation friend or are you the real deal?

Dear Employees:

Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown of economy, Management has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 40 years of age and above on early retirement. This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).

Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to management to be eligible for the SHAFT scheme (Special Help After Forced Termination). Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW program (Scheme Covering Retired EarlyWorkers).

A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as Management deems appropriate. Persons who have been RAPED can only get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependants & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance).

Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED any further by Management.

Persons who are not RAPED and are staying on will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible. Management has always prided itself on the amount of SHIT it gives employees. Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring to the attention of your Supervisor. They have been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.!

The Management

Has anybody else, besides me, felt this exact same what in the past year or so? So true, it is damn hilarious.


The Tribe Cordially Invites You...

The Tribe will be celebrating the April/May Birthdays amongst us. The Evite is out so if you didn't get it yet, drop me an email so I can add you to the list. You don't want to miss another FABULOUS Tribe Event. I look forward to seeing you there soon.

One Year Ago Today...

The Tribe - Kayla's Going Away Party

The Tribe & Friends gathered together to say Anchors Aweigh to one of our own - Kayla - who is off to a far off land (remember the bat signal if you need a way out). It was a wonderful celebration. It is always wonderful to get together with The Tribe and we got to meet some of Kayla's family and friends who had absolutely NO IDEA what they were walking into. I know they think we are the craziest bunch of men & women on the planet...and why da heck would you sit me, of all people, down near the newbies. YOU KNOW I was all up in de business, doing the backstroke all up in there Koolaid. I have earned myself a new alias - MASTER KOOLAID SWIMMER - if there is information, a background check, or any personal data that you need to know, send me in, cause MKS in on the case.

And as usual for the Usual Suspects, we can't go nowhere without some TNT - we know drama.
* We had to be sat in a private room and had to keep telling them to close the door cause we SO DAMN LOUD. All of us.

* I LUV Kayla's man. He is HEEELAAARIOUS. I thought I was gonna bust a kidney with his "how to use a Machette" demonstration & sound effects.

* Why does OneBlackMan ALWAYS got to show out...just food for my fodder...we was both a hot messy mess, but it was funny as hell.

* Just so you know..."This ain't the Olive Garden, so yes, that IS the lasagna."

* "Is that Dick Gregory?"

* Who gonna take the damn picture?

* "Ya know I was just in a photo shoot with Dick Gregory"

Never a dull moment. What a wonderful evening. Come back to us safe & sound, Kayla!


Pictures from The Point

Fog on the Hudson

Fog on the Hudson, originally uploaded by TheTravelDiva.

Just another typical West Point Day on the Hudson - grey & rainy - yet still beautiful.


Diverse Thoughts from the Diversity Conference

* It is a typical West Point Star Day - grey, cool, rainy...I can almost smell that wet wool Dress Grey now.

* There are some MALO (Admissions Liason Officers) who need to sit the eff down & retire. If you don't believe there are qualified diverse candidate anywhere to be found, then you are not looking and you are a detriment to the entire admissions process

* Imma start a fight w/someone before this conference is over.

* If your ignant azz thinks that a Full Dress Grey Tar Bucket reminds you of N#&$$€%'s then I need you to GTFOOH. Why are you even at a Diveristy Conference. Was this a punishment or training exercise for you?

* Seeing the book bags lined up in Thayer Hall still trips me out. The Corp HAS!

* SIGH...it has taken 50+ years to think it is necessary to make a "Business Case for Diversity". I'm just tired.

* Thank you. Yes there is a Business. Economic & Human Imperative to Diversity & Inclusion.

* Ummm I'm going to gnaw my arm off having to wait for everyone to speak before we can eat at the luncheon. TALK FAST

* Lawd Hab Murcey - that African American 4 Star General is mighty fine up there. Lookin real purty in dat der uniform wit all dem awards & stars. *swoons*

* Jefferson Hall - the new cadet library is a work of beauty.

* Lots of very interesting questions to the panel.

* I am put out..FRIGGIN HOT....by the sad friggin state of affairs within the Cadet Gospel Choir. WTF you mean your keyboard is missing keys, your drum set is an antique, and you have no music. Shyat...Ila is right down the friggin hill; Walter is now Director of the Datmouth Gospel Choir. WHY THE FUGG ARE YOU NOT ACCESSING THE LONG GREY LINE TO GET ISH DONE & GET SOME HELP. JEEEZE. I'm tellin.

* I hope to God there is some wine @ this reception tonight or somebody is gonna get an earful. What de gonna do...bend my dogtags, stamp my I.D card no dessert? Humph.
Lisa Steptoe



Our bestest friends had their 19th Wedding Anniversary on March 31st. I remember when they got together. I didn't know Terri from adam but Ron & Joe were good friends and in the same unit...and Joe was happy. The FireMarshall loved his friend, was happy for Joe and wanted me to share in that. Good enough for me.

Ron invites Joe & Terri over to celebrate their marriage and I go all out with the cake, champagne & dinner. It was the first time that I met Terri and although we are SOOOO different, we were also like "peas & carrots" - perfect friends. Turns out I'm her city girlfriend and she is my country girlfriend...the house we would put our car in autopilot to run too in the event of the end of the world...cause Joe & Terri know stuff. Lot's of stuff. At least we know we gonna eat. One day I'll share the tale of the evening over drinks at their billion acre farm where I read aloud from her "Goat Husbandry" book. My rendering was priceless. I had to have a kidney transplant. NO TERRI... I AM NOT GONNA GET GOATS, CHICKENS or any other farm animal just cause I got me some acres. I know, hope springs eternal.

Ron & Lisa...Joe & Terri - we've been friends for 20 years. We have shared happiness & sadness; setback & triumphs; the fullness of life together. Terri loves me for me and I for her. Joe lets me wax on eloquently and occassionally say stupid ish...chastises me...and then gives me a hug and a cigar - all because he can and we are friends. Ron & Joe are just...best friends. The best men I know on the planet. REAL MEN. FAMILY MEN.

I love these people. WE LOVE THESE PEOPLE. They are family...even all them damn kids. (and BTW - how many friends with 5 children you have that can come and stay at your house without a murder happening - I got one - not a bad heathen in the bunch).

Happy Anniversary, Joe & Terri. May you have many, many more joyous years.


Country Sunset

Country Sunset, originally uploaded by salesdiva.

The sun setting near my home.