My Parents Taught Me How to Spot Groomers

DISCLAIMER: I KNOW MANY WONDERFUL MEN WHO GENUINELY LOVE CHILDREN AND NOT IN A CREEPY WAY. THANKS TO THE LOSERS WHO HAVE RUINED EVERYTHING FOR THESE GOOD MEN.

I recently went out with friends and when I mentioned that I used to be really shy and am still withdrawn in some situations, one friend said, “That makes sense. I’ve seen you scan the room.” I’m especially likely to do this if my kids are with me. I greet people briefly and then I watch for signs of danger.

One of the best lessons my parents taught me is how to spot a groomer and I appreciate that they were never quiet about it. If they thought someone was a creep, they said so. Our 14 year-old paperboy used to pound on the door at dinner time quite loudly and initially what I saw was a friendly kid. One day when he left after trying to chat it up with our family, my dad was rather enraged as he expressed how he couldn’t stand the kid and I don’t remember exactly what words he used, but I think what he was getting at was that he was trying in ingratiate himself and was overly friendly to the point of unbelievable.

I took note and when he came to the door one day to collect and I told him my parents weren’t home (I was 11), he asked if he could come in and I slammed the door in his face as I yelled, “NO!” Just months later he was arrested after someone let him babysit their toddler. If it hadn’t been for my dad, I cringe to think what would have happened if I let the boy in. Girls are supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice” and “no” is not a nice word. We learned from stories like Cinderella that the ultimate woman (the kind a prince would want) let’s people walk all over her with a smile on her face and she’s still kind to her abusers. This is why I love “Ever After”. Cinderella toughens up, tells her step-sisters “You have two hands. Make it yourself” and she sends her step-mother and step-sister to America to be laborers after she basically sold her into sexual slavery. She was still pretty nice because she could have had them beheaded.

Anyway, back to the perverts. There was a man we went to church with who always had to touch people. He had one and a half arms with a sock or something covering the half arm and he went to the extra trouble to lunge forward to touch my mom with his half arm rather than with his hand. Nothing wrong with having half an arm, but that doesn’t seem like something most people with half an arm would do. Also, don’t touch my mom. Looking back, I realize he probably did this because who would dare tell a disabled person not to touch them? That’s what allowed him to get away with it. He thought his super-friendliness was just so charming!

Every single time we went to the pool, he was there in the water with other people’s kids. You know, just being the cool guy who saves the day so the parents don’t have to get in the water if they don’t want to. The perfect place for someone who doesn’t want people to see where his hands are. He reportedly had no kids of his own, but a garage full of toys for neighbor kids to play with. Of course, they had to play with them at his house. I don’t know if he was ever accused of anything, but he made my skin crawl.

A friend sent me this article and it’s so true! Predators groom everyone around them and they pick their victims carefully so everyone who wasn’t abused by them will come to their defense. “He would never do that! He’s such a nice guy and he didn’t molest ME!” Yeah, if they molested everyone they would be caught quickly.

We want predators to look like monsters, but they don’t. They look like Matt Lauer. Well, and also like unattractive Harvey Weinstein. OK sometimes they look like monsters. When I came across an article about how Matt Lauer was seen looking miserable, I removed all news stuff from my home page because it struck a major nerve. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him? What about his victims? Are they somewhere looking miserable because Matt Lauer assaulted them and created a hostile work environment? Don’t prey on people and you can keep your family and career.

I’ve had way too many friends tell me recently about various red flag situations they’ve been dealing with and in one case, I had two friends tell me separately about a man who was giving them great concern. I made a mental note of his name and face and when I crossed paths with him, I unfortunately had to make a bit of a stink and have him removed from a situation that involved many children. I warned two of my friends to keep an eye on him and one found him later showing her son YouTube videos rather than helping with clean-up. He appears to be obsessed with young boys especially and I witnessed him trying to befriend multiple little boys, including tickling one. I mentioned this to one woman and she dismissed my concerns as him being on the spectrum. Another friend then witnessed her tipping him off that parents were getting concerned, so he should start acting like x, y, and z. Wow, enable much? Just teach the man to groom more subtly.

I witnessed a mom looking uncomfortable as he zeroed in on her toddler son. In recent months, a dear friend of mine had told him to stop showing up uninvited to kids’ events to take photos. There was no release signed by parents and he was not made the official photographer. Plus he wasn’t producing any photos that he took for the parents.

It’s natural to want to think the best of others, but my hope this year is to help educate people on the signs of grooming. This is one of the greatest gifts my parents have ever given me because it kept me safe(r).

Some signs of grooming:

Singling out a child as “special”
Befriending the child’s family
Isolating the child
Pushing physical boundaries slowly (like tickling a child playfully so they get used to you touching them)
Gradually exposing the child to sexual content

I could write a novel about all of the experiences I’ve had, but I think that’s enough for now. If someone expresses concerns about an individual, listen! Don’t dismiss it as just a quirky personality trait. Compare notes. Have other people also had concerns or witnessed something? I’ve dealt with three sexual deviants in less than two years and the hardest part is when people either dismiss your concerns, excuse the behavior for one reason or another, or don’t want to help because it stresses them out, but they are very grateful you are doing something about it. It has been unbearably stressful for me at times, but I continue the disheartening chore of reporting issues and worrying about how it will be received.

 

YouTubers Are “Fish in a Barrel”

I posted the following on my YouTube community tab late last night. Or maybe technically this morning. Above is my playlist of videos that had the comments disabled because my children appeared in them, often just in the background. I now made those private as I wonder if the FTC would consider them “Made for kids”. After I made a silly dance meant to be shown to romance scammers, my daughter said she wanted to “dance like a weirdo” too. We laughed so hard as her glasses fell off over and over again. Her facial expressions are the best! And now she just got up and upon seeing the thumbnail above, she asked to watch the video again because she loves it so much. 

Hi Friends!

Rather than work on more videos today, I went through hundreds of my videos to determine if anything could be considered “Made for kids” according to the vague information we’ve been given. Months ago YouTube started disabling comments on videos with minors in them because a bitter guy named Matt something with a lame channel made a stink about pedophiles being active in the comments in many videos. Which is disgusting, yes, but this is another case of “Where the heck are the parents?” If anyone made a disgusting comment about my children, I would report them immediately and moderate it myself. I don’t need YouTube’s “help”.

Matt started contacting advertisers to alert them that their ads were showing up on videos that had many pedophiles in the comments. Advertisers like Disneyland feared upsetting customers, so they threatened to pull their ads. Sort of understandable that YouTube would be concerned, but at the same time, businesses need a good place to place their ads, so what if YouTube had said, “Oh well. We’ll just sell those spots to someone else.” ? It’s obviously not Disneyland’s fault if some waste of toilet paper is making disgusting comments about children. Creators definitely should moderate and I don’t think children should be doing the moderating or running their own channel. And like people are going to boycott “The happiest place on earth!” Please.

Back to that Matt guy. He tried to present himself as a hero of sorts. A guy who’s just concerned about the innocent kids. No, he got hit by Adpocalypse when the advertiser friendly guidelines started and apparently pretending to do stuff to himself (ew!) wasn’t considered family friendly. He also approached various women asking for inappropriate things for his videos. Not a hero. He was looking for a way to ruin YouTube. He’s gross. And he’s not funny.

When YouTube disables comments on your videos, they don’t even send you a message letting you know. That’s pretty lame. I’ve really loved a lot of the comments and if I had been given a heads up, there are some I would have saved for my kids to enjoy later, like when we made Christmas music together. Just yesterday I finally noticed some of my videos had the comments disabled, which makes me wonder if they would also be classified as “Made for kids” just because kids are in it.

Many of my videos don’t get any views anymore (or don’t seem to), so now I’m left wondering if I should just delete them, make them private, etc.. I only have a glimpse of what it’s like to have my comments disappear.

If you watch @Ayla Jalyn , she has the most adorable little boy named Roman and he does cooking videos that warm your heart! The world feels like a better place when I watch his videos. Ayla made a video about #COPPA and suddenly YouTube enabled the comments on that one video. Really, YouTube? You’re really going to miss Ayla’s money, aren’t you? I mean, you want her on your side in the fight against the evil FTC. Poor YouTube. You never could have prevented this!

That was sarcasm. If I were making a video about this, I’m sure the sarcasm would be strong.

Or what about another one of my favorites – @LadBaby ! I watch all of their videos and they’re hilarious, but they do show their kids in most videos and I’m sure a lot of kids would enjoy their videos just because they have a lot of family fun. I love seeing people succeed! And it makes me sick to my stomach to see their dreams being taken away.

The video going around with the FTC guy – he says something about creators being fish in a barrel. Um, OK. We’re smarter than fish, you dork, so watch us jump out of the barrel and start a class action lawsuit for financially ruining people over an outdated law. There are probably a lot of people who aren’t concerned, but what rules will the FTC make next that might affect YOU?

What’s that one document that says something about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I like that thing. This is what too much government looks like.

You know who should pay $42,000 fines? Pedophiles! $42,000 per incident. Makes a lot more sense than fining people who make great videos for kids!

COPPA and How it Affects YouTubers

 

I just made a silly video about this situation, but I am actually fuming mad about yet another issue that is affecting YouTube creators and our ability to provide for our families.

I know a lot of people feel like we should get a “real job”, but believe it or not, a lot of work goes into YouTube videos between the making of the video, editing, marketing, etc.!  It’s not fast, easy money and I didn’t get paid anything until I had been posting videos for about five months. And I’m not making anywhere near a full-time salary, but the amount I receive helps us make the van payment and other expenses.

YouTubers have had one difficulty after another between Adpocalypse and a stink that was raised about pedophiles commenting on videos involving children doing innocent things like gymnastics. Many channels with children had their comments disabled already because of perverts who time stamp videos with what they found appealing. Oh how I would love to throw every last one of them down a flight of stairs!

With COPPA, The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, there are laws against collecting data from children and targeting ads at them. I’m still confused about it and apparently YouTube received a huge fine for collecting data. So if kids are watching cartoons, they see toy commercials, right? Are they being violated in some way? I really don’t understand why YouTube should be any different.

First of all, your gmail is your YouTube log-in and you can’t create a gmail account if you’re under age 13 unless you lie about it and perhaps your parents allow you to lie about it. I know there’s no way to prove it, but parents should really follow the rules there and not just hand over a device with the YouTube app and let their young children watch one video after another with no supervision. It’s the parents’ job to parent, not the FTC. Other kids surf on their parents’ accounts and I hope parents are watching with them or within earshot.

Second, why should comments be disabled just because a video is made for children, even if it doesn’t have any children in it? Creators need feedback and it’s all part of the joy of the experience!

With Adpocalypse, creators struggled to make sure their videos were advertiser friendly, basically meaning family friendly, but thanks to the FTC, now being family friendly is negatively affecting us too!

Here are some criteria to consider according to Google:

Subject matter of the video (e.g. educational content for preschoolers).

Whether children are your intended or actual audience for the video.

*Whether the video includes child actors or models.*
Whether the video includes characters, celebrities, or toys that appeal to children, including animated characters or cartoon figures.
Whether the language of the video is intended for children to understand.
Whether the video includes activities that appeal to children, such as play-acting, simple songs or games, or early education.
Whether the video includes songs, stories, or poems for children.
Any other information you may have to help determine your video’s audience, like empirical evidence of the video’s audience.

I’m trying not to overthink this, but it’s hard not to do considering the FTC can fine people $42,000 per video! No one can afford that. But common sense tells me that I should be able to look at my analytics and determine that overall, my videos are not made for children despite the fact that my kids sometimes appear in my videos, often against my will. Since the beginning of my channel, viewers between the ages of 13 and 17 make up only 1.4% of my audience.  Who knows how many of those were kids lying about their age, but obviously I’m not popular with kids, which is fine with me because that’s not my target audience. I’m aiming to reach people who are vulnerable to being scammed.

The FTC will use its discretion as to whether it will fine people or not, but I feel my channel is safe. It’s sad to see comments from people who are deleting videos they worked so hard on because they’re scared.

Gamers who play mature games are nervous. As they should be because lots of kids will watch those videos whether they’re allowed to or not.

Animation videos typically all look attractive to kids at first glance.

I talked to a person who does art tutorial videos for adults and YouTube declared on their behalf that their videos are kid directed. How frustrating!

That being said, I don’t like it when kids are exploited on YouTube and I do want to protect them, but I don’t see how ads are a danger to kids. I know an actual child predator who apparently did no time despite preying on kids as young as 11 in Yahoo games and exchanged explicit photos and video with them. That is what kids need to be protected from! He wasn’t fined $42,000 either! Why is the fine such an obscene amount?

I hope the majority of us YouTubers will survive this and I encourage everyone to sign this petition, even if it doesn’t affect you personally.

#YouTubeWakeUp

Last night a loved one emailed me to tell me an 18 month long case was finally over and a man was going to prison for 30 years for both raping his daughter and sharing photos of the abuse with other sick perverts. This girl was saved due to a tip from Google, which as most of you probably know is linked to YouTube.

Just moments later, a friend posted a video where a man was ranting about a pedo ring on YouTube, sharing some disturbing things going on in the comments sections of videos with children. Many videos are completely innocent, but as we all know, perverts can make anything dirty and these guys timestamp what they consider to be sexual and often they download videos and upload them as their own.

As a YouTuber, I have had many of my videos demonetized due to their flagging system and I know how frustrating that is, but these videos that are attracting pedophiles have innocent titles, so they aren’t demonetized. If you title a video “Photo Shoot” it can incorrectly flag it as being gun related. To be silly, I titled a video “Drive of Terror” when I first took my son driving, but apparently YouTube thought it was probably a violent video.

Anyway, this man was angry because once he looked up “bikini haul” (I guess that’s when someone goes shopping for bikinis?), the suggested videos had to do with girls and then every suggestion had to do with girls after that. He did so after making a brand new account and said he had entered a soft child porn “wormhole”.

So I tried making a brand new account and searching for “chocolate cake” on YouTube and the suggestions were nothing but chocolate cake because at that point, that’s all their algorithm knew about me. Not a very scientific experiment he’s conducting.

Is there a huge problem? Yes. YouTube can hardly keep up with the massive amount of videos uploaded every hour. But this man is calling for large companies to pull their ads, claiming that YouTube facilitates a place for pedophiles to congregate.

*sigh*

This morning as others looked into his history, it appears he is bitter his channel never made it and it was a disgusting channel where he asks random women on the street to make adult films with him. I guess it’s supposed to be funny? It’s not funny. So this seems more like sour grapes rather than a man being outraged about innocent children being wronged.

Let’s put this into perspective here. There are countless good channels on YouTube. We need YouTube. There is Operation Underground Railroad, Fight the New Drug, and much more. Those organizations need to spread their message.

The hashtag is #YouTubeWakeUp.

Everyone wake up! How did we end up with such an overwhelming number of pedophiles that YouTube can’t even keep up? That’s highly disturbing. Pornography is a plague on our society.

P.S. Don’t let your children upload videos to the public that perverts easily make into something it’s not. For the love!

Messing With Romance Scammers

Screenshot (604)

 

Hi Friends!

It’s been a long time since I updated my blog! My latest amusement/business is messing with romance scammers who approach me on Instagram. I avoided Instagram for a long time, but a friend suggested it would maybe help me promote my YouTube channel, but what it brought me was a new way to mess with scammers while raising awareness and laughing my head off.

These guys are ridiculously desperate and stupid. With my normal account, I had so many of them approach me even though my bio says I’m married, so I wondered what would happen if I made a decoy account aimed at attracting (losery) men. I got so many message requests, I could hardly keep up!

 

Lonely widows especially fall for these men (or maybe women) even though their English is terrible and they can’t carry on an interesting conversation at all. They convince them they’re in love, ask for iTunes gift cards or money to be wired, and I was just reading about one woman in Europe who gave a scammer thousands of dollars, realized it was a scam, tracked him down, then went to Nigeria and had him arrested.

I’m really frustrated with Instagram because it’s taking them longer and longer to ban these accounts when I report them. When they are banned, I don’t know if their IP is banned or if they just quickly make a new one. One thing these scammers pressure women to do is to immediately move the conversation to Google Hangout, What’s App, etc.. I’m sure it’s because they don’t want to lose access to their victims. If Instagram bans them, all their hard work goes to waste.

The majority of these scammers impersonate military personnel, claiming they are on a peace keeping mission in Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan. Others says they are contractors on an oil rig and they make up reasons why they need gift cards like “I need to upgrade my phone and I don’t want to lose contact with you. My phone is getting worse and I don’t want to lose you.”

I’ve been talking to this particular scammer since October, except for the brief period we “broke up”. I have a series right now called “Dating Steve Mills” and new episodes post every Wednesday. Multiple people have said it’s better than anything on TV. Tonight episode 8 almost made a grown man pee himself. You can watch all of them if you go to my romance scammers playlist.

It’s getting harder and harder to bring more traffic to my channel because Facebook suppresses YouTube videos. I have over 800 Facebook friends and when I share any kind of YouTube video, I get maybe three responses. We’ll see what happens with blog posts!

Another issue is that I have 14,000 subscribers on YouTube, but a lot of my videos only get maybe a couple hundred views initially. I used to get 500 in a 24 hour period when I had way fewer subscribers. I get comments that people missed me because they think I stopped uploading, but either they didn’t tap the bell or YouTube had a glitch and untapped it for them. I feel like I’m depending on their recommended pages at this point.

Still, I’m going to keep plugging away because I believe it’s going to catch on more eventually. In fact, I’m going to be a guest on The Debra Rufini Show, which will air on January 11th at 9am PST. I hope many of you will tune in!

During the month of December, I also shared a lot of my singing videos, which was a very intimidating experience for me, but a positive one.

Please subscribe to my channel and follow me on social media!

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Decoy Instagram

Join in the fun! Please follow Irene and play along in the comments. My photos there give hints as to what I’m up to now and what lies I’m telling the scammers. Also please share this post! Thank you!

Amazing Wealth Systems Workshop

20171111_123706.jpg

UPDATE: The FTC sued these people. If you were ripped off, you can filed a complaint and there’s a chance you can get at least some of your money back. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/05/update-amazing-wealth-system

Weeks ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to attend a seminar with her about creating a business through Amazon.  I was very skeptical and asked her if someone was going to try to sell us a timeshare or something, but she believed it was a legitimate thing endorsed by Amazon because these people were using Amazon’s logo on the “tickets”.

These people suck.

I agreed to go with her because I wanted to see her anyway, but I also like to expose scams, so why not?  We walked in and they located her on the guest list.  They asked for my name and phone number.  I’m definitely looking forward to talking to them soon.

The first photo is what we saw walking in. Gag.  Then next to the door was this.

20171111_114901.jpg

She realized very quickly that this wasn’t a seminar or workshop at all, but a sales pitch.  It’s funny how they act like they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to come hear their 2 hour sales pitch.  Gee, thanks!  Exactly what I want to do smack in the middle of a Saturday.  The fact that it’s in a hotel conference room probably adds a dash of credibility, but anytime I hear a bunch of smarmy guys in suits promoting get rich quick schemes, I immediately roll my eyes in disgust.

Dear hotels:  Maybe you should consider not allowing financial predators to use your rooms to rip people off?  I mean, I realize you make money off of it, but come on.

This is pretty typical.  The guy whose name I don’t remember (and don’t care) talked about how he started in the military and like most government employees, they don’t make that much.  But then later he got into doing business on eBay, became a great success there, moved on to Amazon, etc.  Blah blah blah.

He had asked that we write down any questions we had and save it for the end.  Of course, what this meant was that he didn’t want to be challenged with anyone’s critical thinking skills.  Dude, if you find this, screw you.  Seriously.  There’s a special place in Hell for those who prey upon the poor/vulnerable/disabled.

Obviously you’re not THAT rich and successful if you have to depend on selling a money making “system” TO A BUNCH OF POOR PEOPLE!

I’m pretty sure some of the people there were planted too.  The ones who were immediately nodding their heads in agreement.  “Yeah!  Mmm hmm!”  That’s designed to convince others that this must be a really good idea.

Either you are an entrepreneur or you’re not.  Some people are talented at that kind of thing.  Others not at all.  Let’s stop implying that poor people “don’t want to put in the work”.  Many, many poor people bust their butts doing some of the hardest jobs around, so don’t you dare imply that there’s something wrong with them!  Every job is needed.  Do you know what the world would look like if there were no garbage men?

You then stated that what was standing in their way was fear.  Or maybe common sense?  Should a person pay $995 for a “system” that teaches them things they can learn on YouTube and blogs?

You have to have money to make money.  Poor people don’t have money.  They have crippling debt and their desperation causes them to make horrible decisions like purchasing things that will not help them, but hurt them.

Next, you said that you can’t just show up at the three day seminar and pay because everything needs to be planned out in advance – the renting of the ballroom, how many teachers there are, etc.  You are so full of crap.  Seriously.  I knew what was coming next.  You were going to pressure everyone to pay today.  Meanwhile, after you asked everyone to silence their cell phones, I sat there Googling on my tablet because screw you, vulture. Sure enough, there were a bunch of stories about you guys ripping people off and surprise, your “free gift” isn’t ever received and your website is conveniently down.

If you care about helping the poor, teach them for free.  If I ever find out the secret to making butt loads of money (in a 100% honest way), I will certainly share it for free all over the place.  With no catch.  And I won’t have to rent a conference room and dish out flattering comments I don’t mean (like you did with my friend today) to win people over.  I’m writing this blog for free right now, jackass! It’s 1:46am. I have to get up early for church, but I’m sitting here writing this and working hard just for the purpose of saving people from the likes of you.  And yes, I’m pretty poor, but I do have a YouTube channel with over 6,000 subscribers and that might eventually really pay off through my hard work. Don’t worry, I will make a video about you!

Let me tell you about my friend.  She has worked hard her whole life.  She faced a lot of hardships as an African American woman, had to start over in her career after an accident, and then got her masters degree.  Unfortunately, she was laid off after a 3 month medical leave, searched for work for many years, lost her home, finally got a job, and found out three days later that she has cancer.  She is so sick, she can’t work and she was denied disability two times.  She is trying her darnedest to find a legitimate way to make money in between vomiting sessions and was thinking maybe she could sell jewelry through Amazon, but I’m sure she can find a way without paying $995!

Don’t you dare tell one of the bravest women I know that fear is stopping her!  I wrote her a note during your lame pitch that I wanted to get gyros because I wasn’t sitting through two hours of that nonsense.  She was hoping there would be a mini break so we could leave.  Hahaha!  Like you were going to make it easier for people to leave!  I told her I would have a coughing fit, leave the room, and she could follow.  But really, I should have yelled that this was a scam.  Next time.

Now do me a favor and do some split leaps on a picket fence.

 

 

 

The Loss of My Grandma

This is definitely a blog post instead of a video.  I have a policy against (real) crying on YouTube.  Plus YouTube has had issues with their advertisers and will send me a message that it’s not approved for monetization, I think because I used the keyword “death”, which gives their automated flagging system concern that I’ve made a death video maybe?  I made a brief video mentioning that I was still alive, but my grandma passed away.  I can write this without receiving an annoying message that it’s defective in some way.

Anyway, I am struggling with grief right now, but it’s different this time.  She lived for 92 long years and sometimes people think it’s less sad when a person is old when they die.  OK, it’s not a huge tragedy and unexpected, but our loved ones can’t ever be replaced, even when they did or said things on a regular basis that maybe hurt or annoyed us.

The difference is, we lost her a little bit at a time, so by the time she was gone, there wasn’t the sense of shock, like jumping into ice cold water.  The visits with her were less and less.  She lost her ability to drive.  She couldn’t handle being at our house for very long anymore.  Outings were later out of the question and she didn’t even come over on Christmas Day. She stopped writing.  She stopped reading. We were eased into a life without Grandma.  She understood everything until the very end, but it was very hard for her to talk.  It’s not that I ever would have wished for her to pass away, but I didn’t want her to suffer anymore, lying in her hospital bed alone for countless hours.  She wanted to move on.  She asked my uncle why he was crying and he said, “I’m going to miss you.”  She said, “Just think of all of the hellos I get to say!”  She longed to be reunited with the three children she lost and my grandpa.

She told my cousin, “Don’t be sad.  I’m happy.”

I’m trying to be happy for her now, but the waves of sadness keep coming.  She was the only grandparent I ever truly knew.  My other grandma has been missing for over 40 years and disappeared before I was born. One grandpa had major strokes that made it impossible to talk for the most part and my other grandpa damaged his brain with alcohol to the point that he couldn’t really carry on a conversation.  He literally drank himself to death.  When he was in a home, he used to go for walks and some bartender felt sorry for him and gave him free drinks.  He drank himself into a coma.  I was a teenager and I watched him have seizures in the hospital, which he did every ten minutes for a week before he finally passed away.  I was devastated simply because we didn’t get to have a relationship.  He wasted his life on alcohol.

I’m left with this overwhelming feeling now that my parents are next and I don’t want to face it.  I couldn’t wait to grow up when I was young, but didn’t consider that that meant my parents aging.  I wanted certain benefits of being older and then I wanted time to freeze.

There’s so much focus on living as long as humanly possible, but I no longer have that wish.  I want to live a decent amount of time, but not long enough to be forgotten.  Not long enough to be put into a home where I will most likely be neglected.  Not long enough to realize all of my friends are gone or to lose control of bodily functions.  Yes, it is a blessing to be with our loved ones, but I want to do the things I love.  I would rather serve in some way on the other side than wait in bed for my death day after day.

Sorry if this is depressing, but that’s how I feel right now.  One day my grandma complained, “My doctor said I could live another fifteen years.”  I joked that I wanted her to live to be 100 so she could be on the Smuckers jar on The Today Show.  They always feature people turn age 100 or above.

I’m OK with being on the jam jar as song as I can still walk, make people laugh, play the piano, etc.

I’m alternating between the stages of grief, but it seems like denial and acceptance kind of feel the same.  I was laughing hysterically at a party last night and then today while I was working on chores around the house, I felt waves of sadness and emptiness. I thought, “I wonder what’s bothering me?”  Duh!  My grandma passed away less than three weeks ago.

I don’t have to feel less sad because she lived a long life.  There are no grief rules.  I have some friends who were both widowed and later married each other, but they are able to tell each other how much they still mourn their spouses.  I think that’s healthy and wonderful.  We don’t just forget those we love.

I do try to distract myself from being sad and feel a lot better when I’m with people, but it’s like the grief is waiting for me when they’re gone.

I love her for lots of reasons and I miss her even though she took jabs at my weight.  I think that’s mostly a generational thing and sometimes I actually found it kind of amusing. One day I told my aunt, “Watch Grandma when I say I’m starving right after dinner.”  Sure enough, the moment the plates were cleared, I said, “When’s dessert?  I’m STARVING!”  Grandma exclaimed in horror, “SARAH!!!!!”  She had no idea I was joking.  She also loved to talk politics and I seriously preferred that she talk about my weight instead.

I admired her most for the way she took care of her daughter and her children, my grandpa, and her own mother for as long as possible.   She also created family history pages every year as gifts for years, which I am so grateful for.  Writing is one thing we have in common, although I’m not sure if she knew that.

I just needed to get these feelings out and now I will put the lid on the can of his Almond Roca my family brought home from the store.  🙂

Surprising a YouTube Friend

 

 

Steph Cake

Cake made and delivered by Jasmin’s Cakes and More

 

*PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO MY CHANNEL!*

Today has been a great day!  Almost two months ago, a YouTube friend commented on one of my videos that she was turning 50 on April 4th and had never had a party.  She also said she usually makes her own cake.  We chatted about it a bit and then I decided I was going to remember that date and throw her a surprise birthday party via video.  I really wanted to send her a cake too, but how?

I finally realized if I had a giveaway and made sure Steph won, she would need to give me her address to claim her prize, which would give me the ability to send her a cake!  I did so and after she emailed me, I was able to look her up on Facebook.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw she liked a bakery and it was close to her.  I emailed them to inquire about delivery and they said, “Hey!  I know Steph!”  And they were available to deliver.

When the cake was delivered this morning, Steph recognized the woman as someone she worked with over 5 years ago and was confused. “Who is this from?”  She said ,”Go watch YouTube.”  Steph knew there was something coming from me, but wasn’t expecting that.  As soon as I knew it was delivered, I published the video.

I worked many hours this past week or so planning, shopping, decorating, trying to get people to be a part of the video, making the video, editing the video, and changing characters multiple times so there would be more “people” telling fake memories of Steph. I had two friends in particular who came over for the party segment, which involved dancing.  They were such good sports and so much fun!

It turns out Steph told her husband last night that she didn’t want to make her cake, so he bought her one, but so did her daughter.  She ended up with three cakes!  She’s so deserving.  The one I chose is the one in the middle. It’s a “mirror cake”.  ”

I was so relieved that Steph loved the video.  I was pretty sure she would, but was a little nervous she wouldn’t like the attention.  It made her day, which made my day!  I love pulling off a surprise!

I hope you watch and enjoy!  It has really lifted my spirits having something positive to focus on.

 

Multiple Myeloma Strikes Again

I’ve been trying to process the awful news that my dad has multiple myeloma.  We all want to be strong for each other, but this weekend I have been crying quite a bit as my dad gets ready to start chemotherapy.

One of my dearest, closest friends also has multiple myeloma and after seeing what it’s done to her, I just can’t stand this.  Well, she also has other factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and more, but we have had her over every Christmas for years, including since her diagnosis, and watched her as she suffers.  The cancer itself makes her puke her guts out. Add chemo and it’s even worse.  Right now her cancer is “slumbering”, but it doesn’t go into remission.  She and my dad will never hear the words, “You are cancer free.”  You can stop its progress for a while.

This wasn’t a total surprise because abnormal protein showed up in my dad’s blood just like my friend.  It makes your kidneys work extra hard, which makes one exhausted.  The doctor said it could develop into multiple myeloma, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.  He has to be on a low sodium/low protein diet and this man loves bacon and eggs for breakfast.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen him cook besides BBQing some things and making microwaved vegetables.

The unknown is scary.  Maybe he’ll surprise us and the chemo won’t be as bad as we fear?

He’s going to lose his trademark mustache.  I think the last time he shaved it off was when I was 4.  I said, “Daddy!  You took your mustache off!  Put if back on.  Right now!”  His 70th birthday was mustache themed.

There are worse things than losing hair though.  It could cause tingling in his hands, which would affect his guitar playing.  That is his passion.  My dad has a lot of life left in him.  He has kept himself healthy and pretty active.  He has been taking care of his mother multiple times per week and she was recently put on a hospice program. I don’t know when he’ll be able to go over there again, but I’m planning on making weekly visits if possible.

My mom has health problems aggravated by stress. I worry about her just as much as I do my dad.

My parents have done so much for us and gave me and my siblings a pretty wonderful childhood even when they were worried at times about how to make ends meet.  I’m so grateful for them and I need to take care of my health too so I can help them as much as possible.  I have to somehow not become sick with worry myself, which I am prone to.

Humor is my coping mechanism.  I will continue to use it, but it doesn’t mean everything is OK. I just have to stay well and I’ve been trying to get well since around September.  I have mostly recovered from a flare-up, but not quite.

I know I am not alone.  So many families have gone through this.  Please share your thoughts with me.  Also, if you have any good ideas for low sodium/low protein recipes that taste good, I would be grateful to have them.

 

A Birthday Confession

kissing-soldier

Ok, it’s not my birthday yet, but I figure as I get closer to my birthday, I’ll be busy opening all the expensive presents everyone got me and attending one surprise party after another.

When my husband was about to graduate from Basic Training, he was very upset to have to tell me in a letter that he was informed there was no PDA allowed in uniform because it’s “a disgrace to the uniform”.  He wouldn’t be allowed to kiss me, hold my hand, hug me, etc.  This was beyond ridiculous as every happy military homecoming I’ve ever seen involves lots of all of the above and this was the moment I started to despise my experience as a military wife.  The way I felt was, “Excuse me.  I never signed anything saying I wouldn’t kiss my husband.”

We had been married for two months when he joined and because he had to wear his uniform all the time, we weren’t going to be allowed to kiss?  Graduation week was coming up and the Air Force laid out what was allowed throughout the week when family was visiting.  Graduation week started on a Monday and then the graduation itself was on Valentine’s Day.

It’s a free country, therefore I went there with a friend a day early and attended church with my husband.  It was hilarious because they are all issued the same glasses and have the same everything, so I stood on the church steps watching for my husband, smiling at every guy with glasses in the distance.  Finally one of them smiled back.

His friend suggested we quickly go around the corner to kiss, which we did.  I was then delighted to learn no one had any say over anything in the chapel, so we held hands all we wanted during the service.  That’s right.  We disgraced the uniform in church!

After the graduation ceremony, we were told we could either attend the Spurs game or the guys could go back to the dorms and do nothing.

It was Valentine’s Day and we weren’t allowed to kiss or hold hands!  Because we wanted to be together, we went to the game, but we spent most of the time trying to find a place to make-out.  Darn elevator attendant!  It’s not PDA if you’re in private, right?

Saturday was their day pass and they were told with a wink that they weren’t allowed to go to hotels.  Of course, we went to a hotel where we held hands and read scriptures.  We said goodbye about 5pm and then it was time to head to the base for his tech school.  He would then go through “phases” and it would be weeks before he was allowed to dress in civilian clothes or leave the base.

My birthday came and he wasn’t allowed to leave base or take off his uniform.  I was also not allowed to take off his uniform.  Hahahahaha.  There was NOTHING to do.  Really.  There was a food court.  I remember one of his friends suggesting we climb in through a dorm window where I wasn’t allowed.

We just sat in the food court listening to one annoying song after another and all I could hear was the booming bass.  Every song sounded the same.  I finally decided I was going to put $10 in the jukebox and buy an entire U2 album as a birthday gift to myself.  It was the best part of my day and as I watched one person after another purchase a song, they looked around in confusion when their song never came on.  I stared straight ahead, opting not to claim responsibility for all of the U2 music.   I think I even managed not to smile mischievously.

I am a selfish person who let people waste their money and didn’t even have the courtesy to tell them, “Your song won’t come on for an hour.”

I’m pretty sure I ordered War.  I might be wrong.  All I know is that I was saved from an hour of musical Hell.

Also, I love this song.  And Red Rocks looks cool.