Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Changes are in the Air!

I hadn't planned on talking about this, but....I'm officially enrolled in cosmetology school! I start March 13. That's two and a half weeks away and I'm a nervous wreck. I'm wondering if I should chronicle my journey through school after over twenty years after high school or not. Of course, being a writer I have to research everything. So, I've been watching videos, reading blogs, and researching the crap out of this industry. I feel pretty confident I've chosen the right path for my life, and being as my daughter (and youngest child) is starting her senior year in the fall and turning eighteen in the spring, I think it's finally time for mom to find something just for her.

Don't get my wrong; I love being a housewife, but with the daughter always gone at school, basketball practice or games, church, my son always at work or friends, and my husband always at work, pinstriping a hot rod or playing in his band...I tend to be alone a lot. I'm ready to get out in the real world, start a career, make some friends, and enjoy my midlife! lol Yep, that's right. I turned forty in December. Can you believe it? Honestly, I don't feel forty. And hopefully, don't look it, either. (feel free to lie to me if you think I look my age!)

Anyway, that's what's going on in my household. I know I said I was going to try to blog more often, but honestly, I haven't had much to say, yet so much on my plate lately.

I'll let you guys know how school goes. Feel free to send me any questions you might have and I'll do my best to answer them as soon as I have a good reply for you!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Domestic Violence In The News

I had another post ready for tomorrow, but then I made the mistake of not only opening a news story, but reading the comments. Here the story for those interested in reading it. It's sad, and awful, and pissed me off. Oh, the comments probably pissed me off more than the story in itself.

While there aren't many details, the gist is a man beat his wife - and mother to his three kids - to death, then set her on fire. Her own father was the one who found her charred body. Horrible, right? Yeah, here are some of the comments that followed the story:

Look, I was in a very abusive marriage for over seven years. Many times I tried to leave. And ever time, he would apologize, beg for forgiveness, and promise to change. He never did. Last I heard, he's still beating his girlfriends. When I did finally get out, I applied and was granted a protection order. Of course, that didn't stop him from calling and threatening me. Did the police do anything? Nope. They can't. The order and law states unless he actually shows up, there's not much they can do other than calling him and telling him to stop.

Statistics show the most dangerous time for an abused woman is the first two weeks after she leaves. That's right, AFTER she leaves. It's terrifying. I don't think I got more than a few minutes of sleep at a time, waking to every noise outside, just positive he'd come back.

Those who've never been through domestic violence like to say things like, just leave, or if it was my daughter/sister/friend I'd xxx. You'd do nothing. Because, believe it or not, we actually love the assholes. And we don't want them hurt. Not to mention, we're grown women. I've heard other say "why didn't her parents call the police when they saw the bruises?" Because there's nothing the police can do without evidence. All she has to say is she fell down the stairs, or was playing football, or wrestling with the kids, or *insert excuse here*. Police can't just arrest someone because a third party said so. That's now how the law works. On the bright side, most states have instated laws that takes the option to prosecute out of the victims' hands. This was done because so many women were dropping charges, whether it was because they feared retaliation or because they genuinely believed the man would change.

My life did get easier, and I eventually married my best friend and love of my life. But, I still have those moments. I still cringe at certain noises and words. I still can't stand to read stories or even watch scenes in movies or television shows with domestic violence. But, my heart has healed, even if my mind and body still remember.

I've forgiven my ex. Not for him, but for me. I've moved on. I've built a better life for myself. But the scars will be there for the rest of my life. Just remember next time you hear a story or even know someone in your own life who is being abused, they don't always have the option to leave. It's terrifying, it's dangerous, and there just aren't enough resources. It's up to every single one of us to reach out to these women (and men) and let them know they have someone on their side.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Glamorous Housewife or Work at Home Mom?

Or can we be both? I strive daily to look at least presentable to my husband. The Retro Housewife Life once did a blog on this topic, and for the life of me, I can't find it. But the page is still beyond worth looking at. I LOVE Nicole's take on being a housewife.

But, I digress. There was a time when people truly believed we should be almost perfect when our husbands came home from work. Hell, there was even a song written about this topic. When you get a chance, head over to YouTube and listen to Wives and Lovers. In the meantime, here are the lyrics:

Hey, little girl
Comb your hair, fix your make-up
Soon he will open the door
Don't think because
There's a ring on your finger
You needn't try any more
For wives should always be lovers, too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I'm warning you
Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don't send him off
With your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again
For wives should always be lovers, too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He's almost here
Hey,

The song has been covered by several artists, but my favorite version is by Dionne Warwick. Anyway, while I don't take the words to that song to heart, I have to wonder how much value it has. Of course, any husband who would cheat or leave simply because their overly tired wife isn't donning a pretty dress and perfect hair and makeup doesn't deserve a good wife. But, have we become so comfortable in our marriages we no longer care, that we no longer try?

As I sit here writing this, I'm wearing makeup, have on cute clothes (although not at all vintage. Most of my vintage clothes are for the summer, and frankly, I'm freezing right now), but my hair isn't curled. I let it dry naturally, so my long hair is just kind of hanging down my back. Oh, and I'm not wearing lipstick. Why? Because Loreal's Infallible lipstick is NOT worth the money. It peels and flakes and ended up on my teeth within ten minutes. Grrrr. My favorite is a brand from Sephora, and the dang label is worn off so I can't even tell you what it is.

Man, once again, I've run off on a tangent. Sorry about that. Back to our topic. Looking good for our spouses....or at least making an effort. Yesterday, I had to run some errands and wore nothing more than a sweatshirt and jeans. Did my husband complain? Of course not. But, I'll show you what I would normally look like...



These are two of my favorite go-to outfits.

Even when I have to do housework, I try to at least look somewhat pulled together. It actually has worked to my benefit on more than one occasion when I got an unexpected visitor or had to run out the door on short notice. I'll post a couple more pics, but keep in mind, they look so good because my sister is a professional photographer. But these are a few of my favorite summer time outfits, as well.




This one was taken by Rutster Photography for a calendar shoot I was involved in.

Obviously, the hair takes a little more effort, but if you can get used to sleeping in rollers (I prefer the Pillow Rollers), the next day all you have to do is brush the curls out and shape. Seriously only takes about thirty minutes from start of makeup to end of hair.

The heels? Nope. Those are for pics and special occasions. Because of my arthritic knees and stupid plantar fasciitis, I can only tolerate heels for short periods of time. So, I wear Mary Janes, Saddle back oxfords, or even Chuck Taylor's.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, you don't have to spend a butt load of money or even spend hours to look good for the day. Hell, put on a clean, nice shirt, swipe on some mascara, and brush your hair. You'd be amazed at how your attitude changes for the day.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Day to Day Schedule

Okay, now that I've posted my cleaning schedule, let's talk about my work schedule. As I said a couple days ago, I'm a writer. Which means, I work from home. Also, I'm recording my books on audio, so I can only do that when everyone is at work or school.

After stressing about never being able to get things done, I decided to make myself a day to day schedule. Now, don't get me wrong - I don't always stick to this one hundred percent. There are days when my mom calls and we head out for some thrift store shopping and breakfast. Or maybe there are unexpected errands that fall on my lap. But, barring unforeseen activities, I've tried really hard to stick to this to ensure there's enough time for everything.

Of course, this schedule won't work for everyone. Maybe you have toddlers that take naps at a certain time. Maybe you work outside the home. Maybe your spouse works from home or you homeschool your little ones. Whatever the case, make a schedule that works for you and stick to it. I've had to, on occasion, set an alarm on my phone to ensure I don't get distracted with one project.

This is the schedule I made on Photoshop and printed out. It's currently hanging in my Cave. (My little space where I work).

It's a little hard to see, but here are the time blocks:

8-9-:30 Walk, Breakfast, and Shower. In this allotted time, I try to walk no less than twenty to thirty minutes. This is also the time I make sure I look somewhat presentable. lol I'm trying to wear makeup daily, but anyone who lives in a colder climate knows how dry it is right now. Between my skin refusing to keep any form of foundation on, and my eyes constantly watering (along with my nose), I've had to adapt my makeup accordingly. (No liquid liner most days)

9:30-10:30 Daily cleaning chore (this goes along with Thursday's cleaning schedule)

10:30-Noon Marketing, Promotion, Emails. Okay, this was is a hard one to stick by because I get messages and calls throughout the day and end up having to run back to my laptop. I'm trying to break myself of it and stick to this time slot, but anyone who works for themselves knows how hard it is to get your name out there.

Noon-12:30 Lunch. Again, hard to stick by because I tend to forget to eat. I'd love to say it's a writer's curse, but I think it's a woman thing!

12:30-3:30 Writing Time! At this chunk, I force myself to sit at my laptop. I might not be able to punch out 3k words, but as long as I'm doing something related to my books, I feel like I've accomplished something. Even if it's editing or plotting.

3:30-5 General Housework. At this point, my daughter has come home from school. I use this time to pick up the house, vacuum, dust, etc. for any rooms not assigned for this day. The deep cleans are saved for their specific day, but daily cleaning is how I keep up on the tornado...I mean, family.

5-7 Dinner and Cleanup. This is prep, cooking, and cleanup for dinner. We sit down at the table every single night for dinner. And since we don't have a dishwasher, all dishes are washed by hand. On the weekends, however, I make the kids take turns doing them to give me a break.

7-Bedtime Family Time!!! This is when we watch TV, movies, talk, etc. It's also shower time for the daughter. Again, I try really hard not to work during this time, but since my husband sometimes works odd shifts, my daughter is on the basketball team and goes to church on Sunday nights, sometimes I'm home alone and use the time to work a little more.

10:30 Bedtime We can all have a good laugh at this one. Okay, sometimes I'm in bed by 10, but I rarely go to sleep before around 11:30. Between reading in bed and mild insomnia, I don't sleep well. Although, I've recently begun taking melatonin and I think it's actually working. I feel like I'm falling asleep sooner and staying asleep longer.

So, there's my daily schedule. Like I said before, this schedule won't work for everyone, but you can adapt it to your lifestyle. It definitely eliminates stress of feeling like there's too much to do and not enough day to do it in.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Cleaning Schedule

As promised, I'm trying to blog more regularly. Hopefully, I can keep the momentum.

Now, while this schedule works for me, please remember we all have different needs, different families, different lives. If this schedule doesn't work for you, tweek it to your liking. Switch the rooms around. Alternate days. But, make sure you find a schedule.

Before I start, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite tools for housework. (I am not paid for these endorsements. These are actual items in my personal arsenal and I'm willing to post pics to prove it. lol)

I love this duster! It bends so you can use it on your ceiling fans and you just pull the sleeve off and throw it in the washing machine. You can find it here.

I bought the pack of different colors so I could use them for different rooms. I use green in my kitchen, yellow in the bathrooms, and blue is for dusting and polishing all the other rooms. You can find them here.

I used to run a housekeeping company and have used so many different types of vacuums. This is the one I ended up buying years ago and I still love it. I only have carpeting in my bedroom, but I can use it on my hardwood floors to get up the dog hair and dust particles that a dry mop would miss. You can find this here.

Okay, as far as the cleaning detergents, I make my own. I'll post the recipe for it below, but you can always use what you have on hand or your favorite store bought brand.

All purpose Cleaner
-1/2 cup of white vinegar
-Several drops of lavender and pepperment essential oils. You can also use lemon and bergamot if you prefer a citrusty scent
-1 tbs Dawn dish detergent
-Spray bottle
-Enough water to fill the bottle
I use this formula to clean everything, including my mirrors and windows. Used with the microfiber cloths, it won't leave streaking. It smells lovely and cuts through grease and grime as well as any store bought detergent,

On to the schedule:

Monday - Bedroom
Change and wash sheets
Dust all furniture
Make sure all meds and jewelry is put away and no clutter is on the floor
Reorganize the bottom of your closet (where all our shoes get tossed after a long day)
Vacuum/sweep and mop floor

Tuesday - Kitchen
Move all items on counter to the side and deep clean counters
Wipe off top and sides of fridge
Clean out inside of fridge
Wipe down outside of cabinets
Sanitize trash can
Sweep and mop floor

Wednesday - Bathrooms
Scrub down tub and shower walls
Scrub inside of toilet with toilet brush
Sanitize outside of toilet, including the sides near the floor
Remove items from sink and deep clean surfaces
Polish mirrors
Dust any wall decor
Sweep and mop floor

Thursday - Living/Family Rooms
Fluff pillows and fold all blankets
Dust all furniture (use oils is real wood)
Whisk/vacuum under cushions
Clean under sofas (where all the discarded socks and missing pens seem to land)
Sweep/Vacuum and mop floor

Friday - Outside/Office/Misc
Office - Sweep front and back porches (this is where most of the dirt comes from)
Pick up any trash in the yard
Water plants and weed (seasonally)
Office - Clear clutter from desk
Dust desk
Sweep/Vacuum floor
I also use Fridays for groceries and errand running


Saturdays and Sundays I tend to rest a little, but I still keep up on the general messes and dish washing. Since we don't have a dish washer, all dishes are done by hand. On the weekends, I make the kids help with some of the housework, including meal dishes.


So, there's my schedule. I actually got the idea from Nicole over at The Retro Housewife Life. If you haven't already, make sure you check out her darling blog!




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

All kinds of new things this year!

Last year, I neglected this poor blog entirely too much. And I apologize. Every year I write goals for myself, not resolutions, attainable goals. One of this year's goals is to update this page more often and find some awesome content for y'all!

As for the changes and goals for this year? Last year, I attended quite a few conventions and book signings. While I still intend on doing a few, I only plan on doing one that is not local and that will be CIL-Con in Mattoon, IL.Otherwise, I'm going to stick closer to home this year. Why, you ask?

My husband and I have decided to become foster parents. I'd done it in the past, but my license expired about two or three years ago. We'll be going through the classes starting this spring. We've chosen to do elevated needs, which can also be considered special needs. Since I've raised my own special needs kids, as well as worked with both special needs adults and kids, we feel extremely comfortable and confident. While previously I'd chosen to work with the teens, this time, we're focusing on newborns through six years old. Because I still have two teens, I didn't want the risk of any accusations or hardships on my own kids.

The only thing making me nervous is making sure I have everything we need. A lot of these kids come with little to nothing. I already found a toddler car seat, but I still need an infant seat, a booster seat, a crib, and some varying sizes of clothing in case they come with nothing. I'm extremely excited, and extremely nervous.

As far as my professional career, I still plan on writing. I figure I wrote when I watched four toddler boys, I can write with little ones living here. I put out my sixth book on December 30th and plan on putting out at least three more books this year. At least, that's my goal. I also plan on becoming better at marketing myself. I'm excellent at marketing for anyone else; time to work for myself just as hard. So, having said that, I'll be including links to my books on this blog, as well as my website, www.clparks.net.

That's all I have for you today, but keep your eyes open for new posts on cooking, cleaning, and being a housewife. After all, that is my primary job and I'm damn proud of it.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Death of My Daddy

The information I'd originally given was vague, and for many reasons. At first, we were working with limited information. On June 1, 2016 at around 9am I received a phone call from my step mom that there had been an accident in Kentucky and my daddy was dead. I kept screaming "you're lying. No he's not. I just talked to him three days ago. You're f*cking lying." And then I began to hyperventilate and collapsed on the kitchen floor. My first call was to my husband who rushed home from work. Then my mom, who called first my little sister, then my big brother on three way to break the news.

The only thing I could find online was a tractor trailer driver fell asleep at the wheel, hit a tree, and the truck caught on fire. Imagine the images that floated through my mind. But we knew better. My daddy didn't fall asleep behind the wheel. He'd been in a truck since he was 18, driving since he was 21. He knew when to pull over, when to sleep, when to rest. We knew he'd had his third heart attack and died behind the wheel.

And then more information began to come out:
This was found on Twitter. Later, they would post a story containing my daddy's name, Jack Howard, Jr, as well as the name of the passenger.

But, we still had to drive the five hours to Kentucky to see my daddy's body before he was cremated because there would be no funeral (per his wishes). My sister, brother, and I made the drive to Louisville, KY. My brother had to hold me up when we walked into the hallway to see that my worst fears had been confirmed. I had tried so hard to convince myself that it wasn't my daddy, just a mere case of mistaken identity.

We've finally learned the full details of that day. I've talked to the passenger, who is thankfully going to be okay in about six months. He'd been sleeping and felt the bump strip along the side of the road. He looked up to find my daddy slumped over the wheel. He jumped up to grab the wheel, but was too late. The semi crashed into a tree, the limbs going through the windshield. The passenger was unable to get out of his door or climb over my daddy, so he climbed through the broken windshield, rolled off the hood, and ran to the road in nothing but shorts and socks to try to get help. He said dozens of cars drove past before finally a truck driver and a pastor stopped. The truck at this point was smoking. They were able to pull my daddy from the truck, but he was already gone. The coroner confirmed that he was gone before the truck hit the tree. It was a massive heart attack. His third.

There are details I don't wish to share, mainly because I can't bring myself to type them, but I will share a few pictures. I do warn you, though, a couple may be disturbing.

My brother in law built this cross, my husband painted it, my sister and I attached the flowers, and my brother nailed it into the ground. This is something I feared would someday happen as I begged him to come off the road, even offering to let him live with us. But the stubborn ass refused to stop working.

The next few pics are of my daddy's truck. The first is what it looked like, and yes, that's a dead owl in the grill. He was always sending me strange pics and texts. He had a silly and strange sense of humor (gee, wonder where I get it):
When the truck began to smoke, they pulled my daddy at least five hundred feet away, so he wasn't inside the truck when this happened:


My brother, sister, and I dug through the dirt, the burned ground, the gas soaked mud in hopes of finding anything that we could connect to my daddy, something that he'd touched. I'm currently wearing a washer on a necklace that was part of the truck. I would give anything to have something that smelled like him, but the contents of the truck were burned.

We held a memorial for my daddy on June 12. My sister made a video for the memorial, a tribute to my daddy's life:
I still can't watch this video without bawling. I'm having a hard time believing he's gone. I keep telling myself he's just on the road, he just hasn't called back yet. But he won't. He'll never call back again. There will be no more silly text messages, no silly calls.

During this time, I felt more alone than I ever have. In the "older" days, people would gather around the bereaved, bring them food, etc. Instead, I received a few texts the day of, had two friends who checked on me regularly, but that was it. There were so many times I wanted to call someone and ask them to bring food, or even just vacuum the floor for me. I couldn't seem to make myself get up. My chest ached, my body felt full of lead. But I was too proud to reach out for help. When I needed my friends the most, there was no one there. If it weren't for my sister, brother, husband, mom, and best friend, I don't know if I could've made it through this with my sanity intact.

The next time someone close to you loses someone, don't offer condolences and remind them they can call you if they need you. Go to their house, show up with food, offer to straighten up, feed their pets, whatever. Send a cheap bouquet of flowers or a card to remind them they're not alone. I'll never again send a vague text, I'll never again tell someone to call me if they need me. I'm just going to show up at your house with a couple days worth of food and I might even wash your damn dishes!