Identity Crisis?


Through the past several years, my family and I have been through some bad times.  Not terrible really.  Especially in comparison to people dealing with health issues; sick kids; dying spouses.  But, relative comparison to what our lives were like say, 3-4 years ago, it was bad.  Basically, we went broke and homeless for a while.  Yea, big whoop right?

Well, in order to help said situation I started a business.  Since I had two very small children that business had to involve staying home with the kids and doing something I could do with relatively no overhead and FAST.  That business, it turned out, was making hair bows and hair accessories.  “Bows By Miss Mandy” as it was named through organic conversations with friends and customers.  Before long, everywhere I went I was no longer hearing, “Hey Mandy!” but “Hey Miss Mandy!”  It was pretty cool.  I was a brand!  My name was synonymous with a product and my logo was recognizable to a lot more people than I ever thought it would be.  All the BS I learned while getting my BS in business paid off.

I remember starting this blog, long ago so I could keep track of who Mandy was.  I was scared of losing myself and becoming “Bobby” which is what my kids called me in their endearing toddler-speak for “Mommy.”   What I never thought would happen is I would lose myself in a different title.  My identity had become “Miss Mandy.”  I loved it, truly I did but making bows and other hair accessories for other people’s little girls had taken over my every waking hour, thought and idea.  So, when Jim’s job finally allowed it, I closed.  I now have time to volunteer at my kids’ school which I do 3 times a week.  Volunteer for Studio Bee, which is an after school program for all kids locally is also in the works.  I’ve joined a burlesque troupe where I’ve met many unique individuals and have a lot of fun.

And they all lived happily ever after, right?   Well, it would seem so.  But, after only a week of closing I’m left staring at the clock and the mirror asking why they look so odd.  Just today I went to the doctor to have a microdermabrasion (not for only vanity reasons – I have a skin condition) and the aesthetician who came in says in an excited tone, “Miss Mandy!”  It made me proud and then instantly kind of sad.  At some point that will go away.  Then what?

After the success, notoriety and “high” that my business brought me, the fulfillment I used to get from a clean house, laundry that is caught up and a cute flower bed no longer exists.  Can it once again become enough?  Or am I an adrenaline junkie of sorts now?  Time will tell.   For now I’m off to my kids’ school to help with popcorn day.  I’ll figure it out.  I always do.

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It takes a village to raise an idiot.


I had a strange experience today at my daughter’s ballet class.  Alex has class in a little room with about 5 other little  4-5 year olds.  Just outside this room is a little “holding” room where the mothers and siblings can hang out while the class is in session.  There’s a window where adoring Moms can stand and oogle their darling tutu toting angels but after a few rounds of passés and pliés it gets to be redundant so we mostly just sit down read books, chat, etc.

Today, I had to bring Jackson.  To his surprise and enjoyment there were two other boys who were about a year older than him who were also dragged to their sister’s ballet practice.  After the initial, “What’s your name?  How old are you?  Do you like Spiderman?” chit chat they were the best of friends.  One of the boys showed the other two how to make paper airplanes and a roudy game of “lets see how far these babies will fly” ensued.  The mothers (myself included) did our best to rein the noise and jumping around in but sometimes that like trying to keep a cat on a leash.

After several moments of  “Jackson come sit down for 5 mins and relax” and trying to make sure Jackson didn’t work himself into a lather they were getting loud once again and I was just about to stand up and get him to bring him over to me and…..Another mother yelled at my son to be quiet. I was sitting right there. What’s puzzling about this to me is her son was one of the three in the plane game. She then turns to me and apologizes and says, “Sorry, I was just assuming you weren’t saying anything b/c you were tired so I thought I’d help you out. Sometimes having a stranger say something helps. Takes a village….” I just sat there stunned.

After a second of complete silence Jackson looks her right in the eyes and says, “Um…..that was awkward. It’s like you think you are my Mom.”  The whole place erupted in laughter.. Thank you Jackson!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

I agree with her theory that sometimes we can help each other out but this was just plain weird. Why did she not take her child, I take mine and the other Mom would get her son?  I am sure Jackson was loud but I do not know if he was any more loud than the others.  What was worse is she goes on to explain how she isn’t afraid to get on to other people’s kids if she thinks they need it.  At McD’s there was a Mom who wasn’t in the play room, sitting out in the dining area w/ her back to the play area and let her kids run wild.  Like I’m in that category??!  What the hell?  This is the same woman who asked a group of people who were speaking Spanish if they were related “because I hear ya’ll over there talking and you all seem to know each other.”  Another Mom says, “I don’t know one word of Spanish.”  Her response?  “Really?  Because you look the most likely to speak Spanish (loud obnoxious laugh).”  And my all time favorite was a little boy talking about how his Mom is Korean and Dad is Japanese and how he’s trying to learn both languages.  Her response?  “Are they very different languages to learn?” (not so bad) “Oh yes, very different.”  “Oh like American English and Britain English?”  (stunned silence).

And I have to deal with her two times a week. Sigh……

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Why August 10th means so much to me.


August 10th, 2000: After over 6 months of daily (hourly) emails, chats and phone calls with a man whom I had never laid eyes on but was madly in love with, I was finally MEETING him.  Seeing him.  Hugging him. Smelling his neck.  Rubbing my hands up the nape of his neck as we had our first kiss.  Never have I anticipated something with so much nervousness and absolute, nail biting terror as I did this date.  So much of my future was riding on this meeting.  If he was who he said he was, I was going to be meeting my husband for the first time.  If he was lying, and I had been manipulated I would be completely ruined and heart broken.  Thanks be to God he was more than I thought he was.  He was perfect.

August 10th, 2001: In the parking lot, in the very spot where Jim and I said goodbye after our first weekend together just a year earlier, Jim pulled a little black box from his side and said, “Please, be my wife so we never have to say goodbye again.” I cried and of course said, “Yes!”

August 10th, 2002: With my all my friends, family and loved ones surrounding me, in one of the absolute most perfect, happiest days of my life  I said to the man I loved that I would be his forever and he said the same.  I took his name, he already had my heart.  We started our life together.

August 10th, 2005: We tried to begin our family basically from the the night of the honeymoon but after 3 years of struggling to conceive we still hadn’t been able to create a baby together.  Injections, doctors appointments, disappointment after tear-filled disapointment.  But on THIS day; this glorious day; we heard the wonderful fast-paced rhythem of “swoosh swoosh swoosh” of the auible proof that I had a life growing inside of me.

August 10, 2011: How fast those 6 years went by but in just a few short days we will take what was just then a “swoosh swoosh” of a life and is now a spunky, insanely smart, hilarious, and oober popular son to his kindergarten orientation.  I’m nervous, sad, excited and overwhelmed as this day approaches.  I will miss him.  This little boy who in one breath can make me undestand why some animal eat their young then do or say something and make me absolutely melt.  He is my heart.  My world.  He is his father.  With a little of me thrown in there.  I like to think he got the best of both of us.

I love August 10th.

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Two Jackson moments that must go down in blog history


On the way home from our Sunday evening ritual of going to get ice cream, my little family and I were riding in the car playing a little game.  Name 10.  We were naming 10 of various topics.

Topic: Name 10 people you’d love to sit down with, have a coffee and just chat with (dead or alive).

Jackson (my 5 year old) went first.  This is his unedited list (word for word – I took notes):

  1. Ratliff Boon (this is the founder of our little hometown Boonville, IN)
  2. Barack Obama
  3. Noah
  4. Mickey Mouse
  5. Tom Bergeron (Host for America’s Funniest Home Videos)
  6. Jesus
  7. Whoever lives in that house
  8. Director of the movie “Cowboys and Aliens”
  9. A street worker (his Dad said, “Good thing he didn’t say ‘walker.'”)
  10. Grandma Pearl (my grandmother who died about a year and a half ago).
Then because he couldn’t narrow it down to 10 he added these two
       11. The whole band from Black Eyed Peas
       12. Benjamin Franklin
Other topics we tried were:  Name 10 forms of chocolate (pudding, ice cream, milk, etc), 10 TV shows,  then 10 famous buildings/structures.  After hearing the kids’ and Jim’s structures I said, “The world trade……” and for about a milisecond I had forgotten they weren’t there.  This spurred another conversation.  I went on to explain what these building were, what their importance was and what terrible thing happened to them on Sept 11, 2001.  Jackson and Alex listened with astute attention and were shocked that someone would do something so evil.  I explained about how his Daddy and I were just dating and that was a moment the whole country….even the world…will remember forever.  I spoke of the firefighters and police officers that were running in when everyone else was running out.  I was trying not to scare my children but also really wanted to explain the day as it affected me, the country, and the collective psyche of Americans.  Jackson says very softly and tenderly, “We should pray for those people.”  I was a bit taken aback by this and also my heart grew.  I said, “You are right buddy.  And their families who are still alive and have to live every day missing them.”
This is the prayer he said to the best of my memory,
“Dear God, please be nice to the people who died in the world trade towers on that September day back when Mommy and Daddy were dating.  And to those mean guys who did that….please shoot them with a gun right in the gut. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
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Look at that guy….


Ever go to a bowling alley and see the guy with his own shoes, ball, ball bag, and even a little towel to wipe the ball?  Or what about the dart guy who gently takes his little hand-crafted darts from a leather case to hurtle them at a board.  And I know we all know a guy who has spent more on a pool cue then some people spend on a car.  Ever see that guy and nudge your friend and say, “Look at that guy”  and that’s all you say?  The unfinished sentence is, “Look at that guy – he takes this WAY too seriously and needs to get a life.”

I am ashamed to say I have had a “look at that guy” experience all too often while attending various religious services.  That guy (or girl) who is raising her hands, screaming the lyrics at the top of her lungs while her mouth is pointed squarely at the ceiling.  Yea, “that guy.”  I have even labeled them “hand raisers.”   They use words like “fellowship” “laying on of hands” and refer to anyone they are talking to as “brother” or “sister.”  Yea, that guy.  I do not know their hearts and I know many (if not most of them) are sincere in their relationship with Jesus and serve Him on a daily basis.  But, a part of me has this, “what’s he hiding?” attitude when I look at them.   Yes, I judge.  I am human.

Well, today Jim and I attended a new church.  One that we had heard was a “different” kind of church.  I got the impression it was one of these “mega churches” that was outgrowing it’s facilities and just adding members in leaps and bounds.  Last time we had heard that we were looking for a church in our new home town and landed smack dab in the middle of a whirlwind of life changing, soul saving, seeker focused church that not only grew in number but also made US grow in our faith and relationship with Christ.  Since we have moved from that area, we have been trying very hard to find it again.  We have attended around 4 other churches trying to get that same FIRE that we found at our home church in Washington.

When we pulled up to this “mega church” (remember it was just an impression I got) we were confused because it was in a strip mall….and not a very big strip mall at that.  I felt disappointment flood me as I was sure this was not the right one or that maybe I had misunderstood what this church was like.  But, we went in anyway.  We had driven almost an hour so where else are we going to go?  As we are checking our children in to the children’s area I look around the one room area I can’t help but be hopeful that maybe, just maybe, this is the church for us….it definetly looks different.  One big room serves as the fellowship area (yea, I said fellowship – big whoop.  Wanna fight about it?) as well as the sactuary where services happen.  The two are only seperated by one large, red velvet curtain.  As service time approaches the curtain lowers to create two rooms.

After we get the kids settled we plant ourselves into our customary back left corner closest to the doors.  Because when you are trying out new churches you need to be able to duck and run in the event they bring out snakes…just sayin’.  Got to be prepared for everything.  One man is on the stage.  Young.  Jeans, T-shirt.  Guitar.  He starts playing “Desire” by U2 but he’s using some sort of foot petals to loop sounds together so that by the end of the song, even though it is just this one guy in jeans with a guitar it sounds like a whole band!  I’m getting excited that this may just be the different kind of church we are looking for but I’m also thinking, “Um…I”m not a prude and I love this song but…um…isn’t this church?  Where’s the Tomlin?”  Next song is more customary but man did they rock out!  Made me feel at home again and was hoping to see some tattoos on the men on the sage.  I smiled a little smile as I thought of the most unlikely, lovable and crazy worship leader I’ve ever met back at our home church, Joe Howard.

A few more worship songs and I was beginning to really feel comfortable.  Then up on one of the big screens was Skyped in a phone call from somewhere in the Middle East (I will not say from where as the church has asked us not to for security reasons).  The church has missionaries whom they fund over in this area to spread the gospel.  A place where just to say the word “Christ” can get to turned in by your own family.  Your father not only CAN kill you for worshiping Christ, but he will be seen as a hero for doing so.  And here, on this screen was 5 Americans and one, obviously Middle Eastern man.  This man, through impossible odds somehow came across a New Testament in his language. Read it and said, “This is what I’ve been looking for.”  And began to secretly worship the One Living God.  These missionaries are helping set up schools in this area.  They have found a way for this man to find other people in his native country with whom he can worship.

The pastor said during first service, as they were talking with the missionaries via Skype, he began listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit he decided to NOT give his planned sermon.  He wanted to do an EXTENDED worship service.  This is so this one man, who risks his life every day as a Christian, can have what we all take for granted.  A day of worship. Where he can hear music and worship his God.  This man had NEVER had this and this “different” kind of church allowed this to happen for this man.  All through the wonderful invention called the internet.

Not one page of scripture was read.  Not one “sermon” was given.  But the flooding of Holy Spirit that filled that room today was something I was not prepared for.  Tears began to run down my cheeks as I began to realize just what this man on this screen was willing to do to be a Christian.  I praised Him for allowing me to live in a country where I can do this FREELY.  I am a filthy rotten sinner, yet he died on the cross for me anyway?  Wow.  I praised Him like I have not praised Him in FAR too long.  I prayed with all my heart that the country from which this man was from would open it’s hearts and minds and see that Jesus Christ is the One Living God.  I found myself wanting to jump up and down; wanting to raise my hands towards Him, point my head to the sky and thank Him.

I wanted to be “That guy.”



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I am blessed

The past year has taught me lessons; put my life into perspective; made me appreciate my family and friends;  matured me; sculpted me; humbled me; gave me more faith and strengthened my marriage.  Would I ever want to do it over again?  Not for a million dollars.  Since this is a public forum I will not air my dirty laundry but lets just say it was hard.  Very, extremely hard.  But when I look back now I can almost see Gods hands creating this situation for me, for us, because honestly, we needed it.  We needed to be shown that guess what?  We don’t have all the answers.  We don’t have shit figured out.  That the friends I had when I was 12 are still the friends I can count on when things are stacked against me.  That my Mother is a saint sent from heaven and I am blessed that she’s mine. That no matter what goes on, what things are said,  in my family, we will always be family and love one another.  That my dog Ripley was the best dog in the history of the world and I still love and miss her.  That my kids are not perfect, I am not perfect, my house is small, my neighborhood isn’t prestigious, my clothes are simple. BUT WHO CARES?!  I’m happier now then when I had it all.  Or when I THOUGHT I had it all.

Through our struggle I somehow grew stronger and more confident and started my own business.  At first as a means to survive and “escape” from reality but now as something I see as a way to love people.  Use a talent (albeit a non-life changing one) to show God’s love, one bow at a time.

I’ve seen my husband….SEEN him.  The man who I knew but sorta lost.  He has amazed me in every way possible.  He’s always been a catch.  A man women wish their husband was like.  But THIS Man, this Jim, is beyond anything I could imagine.  His support and belief in me is how anything I do is possible.  He tells me daily that I’m a wonderful mother.  That he’s proud of me and my business.  That I’m beautiful.  But, I only wish I could express to him that HE is the impressive one.  He is the most caring, giving, self-sacrificing man, husband and father my eyes have ever seen.  There is nothing that he can’t do and I know that even though we have landed on our feet, we will not only be “ok” but FLOURISH with him at the head of this family.

The lesson that I learned is oddly one that I’ve known all along.  “The most precious things in life aren’t things.”  Funny thing is that in the old beat-up, shot gun house on Virginia Street that served as my first actual house when I rented it in college was a small wood  heart with this saying painted on it.  I took this little memento with me when I moved out of that house and I have carried it with me in every apartment, duplex, and house I’ve ever lived in since then.  But now, as it sits on my window sill and I do the dishes in this little house (because there is no dishwasher) I realize just how true that really is.

Thank you God.

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The new and improved JACKS!

My kids, My life, Parenting

A while back I posted an entry called “That’s a terrible thing to say.” In it I vented about my frustration with my then 3 year old.   But, it’s been a year and WHAT  a year it’s been.

So much has happened that I would like to make sure I write about.  After the whole “getting kicked out of preschool” incident and the escalating anger and behavioral issues we decided we needed help.  Help learning how to parent this special boy.  So, through COUNTLESS hours of research and calling various doctors, child psychologists I found the perfect place for us to start.

Ball State University Psychoeducational Diagnostic Intervention Clinic.  There was a 6 month waiting list but because all our other options were going to cost thousands of dollars we went with this one.   Plus, this clinic does both IQ testing for giftedness AND behavioral testing as well.  The perfect fit. It was a weekend long testing, very thorough and Jackson had a blast.  It was just games to him.   They tested his IQ as well as for behavioral and emotional conditions. After the testing we had to wait another 3 weeks to get our results.

What we suspected was confirmed to us:  He’s a genius and he has ADHD.  Well, at least we had someone impartial and professional telling us so.  We were given parenting tips, diet changes and also suggestions for medication.  We researched, prayed, talked with our pediatrician (who we love and trust) and decided that to give Jackson all the chances he can in life to succeed he needed a little help.

I’m sure there will be those who are so anti-medication who are also equally uneducated but who have hearts of gold who will say we are just doping him up and that’s why he’s “good.”  That’s fine, you can say those things.  And then go back to your home and do what you see fit with your family.  As for me and my family, we will do the same.

Fast forward to today (a year and a half later).  Jackson is a pleasure to be around.  Learning new things in leaps and bounds.  Reading at a 1st grade level.  He’s in a new preschool and doing wonderfully!!!  At our first PTO meeting with Jackson’s teacher (who we told NOTHING to about his previous preschool experience, his IQ, nor his diagnosis or meds) she had nothing but glowing things to say about him.  Jim and I just sat there close to tears as we let her go on and explain how he is polite, highly intelligent, and fun he is.  A pleasure to have in her class!  Then, like a bubble about to burst, we let her know how excited we were by what she was telling us and why.  Poor woman, she must have thought we were nuts b/c Jim and I  talked over each other; explained where we had come from, what we had been through and what the testing had told us.

Just a few months ago he got an award.  I think the picture says it all:



This is the little boy that Jackson was all along.  He was just unable to let him out b/c he had so much going on in that big ol’ brain of his he didn’t know what to do with himself.  He is not a zombie on his medicine, he is himself.  The way he WANTS TO BE.  Able to focus, able to think, able to communicate his thoughts and feelings and, able to listen and control himself.

He loves school and can’t wait for kindergarten.  We haven’t totally ruled out homeschooling but for now it’s just on the shelf.  Let things develop and see what happens.  I, for one, am THRILLED to see!

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A mental health announcment


Found this in my drafts and it made me laugh.  So I thought I’d publish it.  it’s a year old or so:

A few posts ago I told you that I went of my antidepressants and was suffering some pretty uncomfortable withdraw symptoms.  Well, it seems I am finally out of my detox and back to a healthy, sane and happy me.  I honestly worried if I would return to my depression since it seems to be a hereditary thing sometimes, not environmental but all is well.  Thank God!

My mind is clearer, sharper, more focused.  The reason I went of the antidepressants in the first place was because I was convinced they were making me stupid.  My memory was slipping from me right in front of my very eyes.  I would put the kids in the car, leave my house to go…..somewhere but have to stop, pull over and think, “Where am I supposed to go?”  It was scary.  Someone could tell me something and 10 minutes later I would have forgotten they ever said it.  I was like the 80 year old grandmother in the nursing home who repeats, “sure has been hot lately hasn’t it” every 20 or so minutes.  I was seriously worried that something was wrong with me.  It was that worry that made me start with removing the Prozac.  It’s a brain medicine so it made the most sense to try that first.  Luckily I was right.  You would be surprised the diseases and conditions you can dream up when you are laying in your bed at night thinking about when you were changing your child’s clothes, leave them to find a pair of socks and forget what you are doing, start a load of laundry, mop the floor, and then SUDDENLY realize you have a naked child in their room.  It’s only funny now that I know I am not suffering from meningioma (I hate Google sometimes).

Everything is cool.  And I couldn’t be happier.

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The Tortoise and the Hair Cut


At dinner tonight Jackson spontaneously broke out in story.  This is the first time this has happened and OH, how I hope it isn’t the last.  At the fresh age of 4 this is what he told us.

(I am trying to remember this and although there are parts that I am sure are word for word, it was too long to remember exactly, but I think I came close.  Also, HE named this story…not me.  I also wish I had this on video because the animated way he used his hands to explain his story was priceless).

“The Tortoise and the Hair Cut”
by Jackson W. Schneider

Once upon a time there was a tortoise and a hare.  The hare had one REEEALY long hair on his head (holds hands as high above his head as he can reach).  They needed to go to the barber shop and get a hair cut.  But, the hare was scared.  So the tortoise put the hare in a wheel chair and pushed him to the barber shop.  Once they got there the hair cut guy cut the hare’s hair.  Then he saw he had a big ear wax in his ear.  The hair cut guy got tweezers, but not the kind that hurt (hold hand in pincher style making tweezers motion).  These kind have sponges that are screwed on to the tweezers with big screws so they soft.  He got the ear wax (“POP”) out.

Now it was the tortoise’s turn.  He did great.  Then they got circle bubble gum (gum ball) for going to the barber shop.

Then they went home where they lived happily every after.


(Huge Smile)

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Balloon Boy stunt constructed by Disney


Really?  Am I the only one that sees it for what it is?  This balloon boy who the world held their breath for…the one who was supposedly in the home-made helium balloon flying through the air over Colorado.  Yea, that one.  It was a hoax!  But not by the tween aged brothers of Falcon (ha ha) Heene.  IT WAS DISNEY.

They are in the process of remaking the 1986 sci-fi movie, Flight of the Navigator. The Heene family, known from their appearance on “Wife Swap” (an ABC show which is owned by…wait for… DISNEY) as a science loving (I read crazy tornado chasing, granola eating) family, were commissioned by the multi-billion dollar company to raise awareness to the original movie.

Am I the only one that sees the resemblance?  Yes, I broke this story – not Fox New or CNN.  Tell your family and friends….

Mickey….you have gone too far this time!

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  • Why I Write this Stuff

    My children called me Bobby when they were toddlers due to not being able to prounounce "Mommy." They are now 7 and 8 years old and I am Mommy. But my real name is Mandy. I just do this so I can keep in touch with the REAL me. Being a Bobby is a dream I thought I may never realize and I do not take it for granted. I homeschool (more specifically unschool) my two children and it's easy to lose yourself in the tasts of the day. I just want to make sure that after 19 or so years have passed,and my kids have moved out, I'm not stuck looking in the mirror and squinting in hopes of seeing Mandy again.