2014 in review

Meme from A’Dell


1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Swam with sharks. I mean I’m sure I have technically swam with sharks as there are sharks in the ocean but swam face first into a shiver of sharks? No, I had never done that before.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
As I was dealthy ill starting the year, I am pretty sure I didn’t make any, in fact I seem to get sick this time of year every year and the past two years have been brutal.

I did actually make some this year so that is a big change.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Close, as in family, no. Close, as in friends, yes, there are babies and pregnancies being announced all the time it seems.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Three of Willy’s uncles and my most special girl Mayday. This was a very rough year.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you didn’t have in 2014?
Health, peace and some forward progress for Sprog.

7. What dates from 2014 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
None, actually, this whole year was like a blur of sadness and stress with very, very few high points and I felt like I was just desperately treading water for most of it.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Getting our kids through District Science Fair, taking 5of6 medals and the banner even though the head judge treated me like I wasn’t worthy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Allowing drama with a certain family member to really hurt my heart.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Of course.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The herbals that have helped me breathe, the roof rack that will allow us to camp with my car, the fuzzy boots which keep my feet cozy…

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
(this is A’Dell’s answer and I’m leaving it)
“Marianne, Hugo’s mother. I have so much respect for this woman it’s hard to put it in words. Her child was diagnosed with an awful form of pediatric cancer and she has kept everything rolling (a whole life! her family! her job! Hugo’s treatment! boring everyday things like laundry, which still must be done!) while treating so many people with grace and kindness. SO MANY PEOPLE. She’s had to be firm with some people, sure, but Marianne has been though so very much this year, more than anyone should ever have to, and she has SO MUCH compassion and generosity left in her heart for other people.”

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A certain family member, repeatedly. MANY, MANY people in this world.

14. Where did most of your money go?
We paid off all our credit card debt (again), teenage boys are very expensive on the car insurance, concert tix (holy shit), heartworm treatment and other vet bills for an unexpected new dog and general life costs.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Any time I get to see friends and travel, I get really jazzed.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Anything by Foofighters and Fleetwood Mac (that concert was so great)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
I am sad but not sadder, or at least not sadder by much, just sad and lonely.

I am the same size but maybe marginally stronger and will be stronger still.

I am somewhat richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Travel, always.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Sick at home with Sprog.

21. What was your favorite TV program?
I am really MEH on most things on TV right now but The Daily Show is still good stuff.

22. What was the best thing you learned?
I have learned so much great stuff from yoga this year. Chakra system has resonated the most.

23. What was the best book you read?
Didn’t read for fun this year

25. What was your greatest food discovery?
Jackfruit is a fantastic meat substitute and a whole food. Love.

26. What did you want and get?
Any and all good news regarding Hugo. People donating to children for Christmas as a birthday wish.

27. What did you want and not get?
An effing door on our master bath.

28. What was your favorite film of 2014?
This is Where I leave You

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
39 um…nothing? Unless we travel for my birthday it’s usually a non day.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More face time with friends

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2014?
Yoga clothes

32. What kept you sane?
A white knuckled grip on it

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
The usual suspects

34. Who did you miss?
My family. This sounds wicked strange but writing my brother stirred up this deranged nostalgia trip for me and well it’s just been very odd to try and cope with, what I miss isn’t reality.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
My yoga peeps

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
If removing yourself from a toxic situation winds you up painted as “the bad guy” it’s still worth it.

37. Show us one of your favorite photos from the year.


Eleven Questions

I love a meme (in fact, I was just looking back over old memes the other night) so it’s fun that Jennie just tagged me in one today.

1. What is your favorite type of cheese? It’d be easier to say what kind of cheese I don’t like and really, even then it’s just which kind of cheese I don’t like as much: pepper jack. Cheese is the whole reason I could never be a vegan (well, cheese and Peeps. Yes, I love Peeps. I am a weirdo), I LOVE cheese.

2. What are you excited about? We are in the middle of some difficult times so I’m trying not to look too far ahead right now but we do have tickets to see Fleetwood Mac in December and as I wanted to BE Stevie Nicks when I was a youngin? That’s pretty damn cool.

3. How did you celebrate your last birthday? I turned 39 and celebrated by attending a Goonies quote along at Alamo Drafthouse.
Dressed appropriately of course.

I also bought myself some tasty cupcakes.

4. What’s on your bedside table? Clutter, pear Güd lotion, castoff jewelry, a glass of water, headache meds and snacks usually.

5. What do you order from the movie concession stand? Lately we only go to Alamo Drafthouse which means I order a stout beer on draft but if we go to a regular movie house? Hot Tamales. I love hot cinnamon candy.

6. Do you have a garden? What’s growing? No, not this year, but I do have roses that survive every year in my front flower beds and seem to do well.

7. Any summer plans? Maybe? I hope. So far we have gotten Sprog registered for a summer session at community college, which is a big deal. I would love to float the river this year as I have lived here 21 years and never done it. I want to spend time with friends, swim and travel.

8. Which TV couple(s) are you rooting for? Amy Farrah Fowler and Sheldon Cooper. I know he’s kinda douchey but the episode where they roll dice for what their D&D characters do to each other? Touched my little geek heart.

9. What’s the last thing you bought? For fun? Sanuk flip flops and the most cozy maxi skirt ever. For unfun? A rim for my car that cost $440 FTLOG.

10. What’s one thing you are passionate about? I am passionate about yoga. I am going through some shit and have been for a couple of years now and it’s the one place where my brain stops. It all stops and I just get to breathe. I love it.

(although after reading Jennie’s I am so boycotting the 2022 World Cup and spreading the word)

11. What are you grateful for this week? I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to see the world. I look back at the trips we’ve been able to take and just feel so lucky. So very lucky. I want to see so much more, because each place I see stokes my wanderlust but I have family that haven’t been anywhere at all. I’m also greedy and would love to just go somewhere all the time. Let’s be real.
I’m supposed to tag people but what I’d like more is if you felt like answering these questions to do so and then let me know you’ve done it. That lets me be lazy AND satisfies my curiosity at the same time.

2012 sucked a lot. A recap is too hard, so have this instead

I decided I might try to do a month by month photo recap instead of the written version that everyone else is doing, not to be different, but because I did the meme and mine was DEPRESSING so PASS.

I don’t even think I’ll do a month to month, but more hey, here are some GOOD moments from this shit year, moments that make me smile and leave it at that. We all need more GOOD, right?

Okay then, onward, to the pictures!

In Jan, I was in Austin twice. I love Austin. I have peeps, many peeps, I love there and still others I seem to be able to catch when they are there.
Us on 6th (snagged from Kristie)



In Feb (I think) A’Dell was in town and we had brunch

In March, I got a new camera, took photos of Sprog and went to Arizona for my first paid photography job
Edited version

In April, I was back in Austin to second shoot for Natalie at Whitney and Matt’s wedding

In May, my baby boy turned 17 and I took him cupcakes and Jack-n-the-Box at school, he also got his first smart phone



In August we were back in Austin (just for an afternoon) to get Sprog his driver’s license
and then Willy and I went to Wales to see two beautiful people get married in a fantastically beautiful place

Bridge over The River Dee from the train trestle


I made a lot of flowers for it

And Willy and I ended our mini vaca over in Amsterdam

September brought Sprog his first car

October we supported a cause by participating in the NOH8 campaign
NOH8 Official Photo
and I’d like to share Jennie’s words from her recap here because she said this so beautifully: “Every year, the same issue moves me like no other: those of the same sex who just want a marriage like I have. When I think of what I have with Mike–the fights, the love, the laughter, the tight hugs, and the easy conversation–and then I think that two people also want that but can’t have it because of their anatomy and because of others’ religion, I just get sick. I do. I know it’s polarizing! I know I may love you while you’re against it! But I can’t be against an adult who just wants to lay in bed and hold the hand of someone he/she calls “husband” or “wife” like I lay in bed and hold the hand of the person I get to call husband. I just can’t. I never will be against that. Marriage equality. It moves me every year, among many other political issues.”

I also second shot another wedding with Natalie
Melissa and Carl

Plus a little bonus holiday shoot before I headed home

November it was off for another shoot in Arizona and then over to New Orleans for The Blathering


and back home for a holiday shoot with this adorable little lady

Plus Ren Fest where I FINALLY got to wear my wings
Faire Photos
(photo via pygmypony.net)

*We did go to Dallas/Ft Worth a couple of times in there as well but at least one time ended with major car trouble and the other I had a dislocated rib so those trips are tainted, sadly, in my mind. Still love my D/FT Worth contingent though which is why I tried to include pics of y’all in other ways 😉

**My Az BFF is not down with pics of her children on the wilds of the internet (which is totally cool) but is also why none of those pics are appearing here, just FYI.

a-b-c meme

Sarah did it, so shall I.

A. Age: 37

B. Bed size: Too effing small. AKA Queen

C. Chore that you hate: All of them?

D. Dogs: Two. Mayday (the expensive one) and Maddie (the crazy one)

E. Essential start to your day: COFFEE.

F. Favorite color: This changes all the time…right now I am going with Dark Teal/Peacock Blue/Turquoise

G. Gold or silver: Silver before gold but I am slowly allowing more gold.

H. Height: I think I’m shrinking, my posture is horrid lately.

I. Instruments that you play: Piano and used to be cello.

J. Job title: Job?

K. Kids: Sprog aka Teenager of Doom

L. Live: Houston

M. Mother’s name: the one I don’t speak to Candace, the one I claim Linda

N. Nicknames: Jess or Raven

O. Overnight hospital stays: HAHA. 1) for me or for Sprog? 2) if for me a. Sprog’s birth b. hysterectomy c. multiple day surgeries 3) if for Sprog qty 4 week-long hospitalizations before the age of 5.

P. Pet peeves: THERE ARE SO MANY. Check out my *HATE* post on this blog somewhere

Q. Quote from a movie: “You get dental with that?”

R: Right or left handed: Right.

S: Siblings: Biological: Brother, younger, in Arizona prison. Claimed: Brother and Sister, older, in Houston.

T: Travel favorite: All travel is my favorite.

U. Underwear: Go go gadget commando…but VS when I wear it.

V. Vegetable(s) you hate: I love all veg. People mistakingly count mushrooms as veg. THIS IS WRONG. MUSHROOMS ARE FUNGUS. FUNGUS. STOP DOING THIS PEOPLE.

W. What makes you run late: Dogs, teenager what moves at snails pace, Houston’s ridiculous traffic and road construction

X. X-rays you’ve had: I can show you them! Lungs multiple times, cat scans, MRIs, boobs, ultrasounds etc

Y. Yummy food that you make: I can make everything except for shellfish, mayo and brownies

Z. Zoo animal: Zebra?

Your turn! (And leave me a link to your post if you do this!)

{30 in 30} Your Favorite Teacher

This one is hard, I was extremely lucky to have a lot of AWESOME teachers growing up and going through school.

All of my favorite teachers have been males (interesting).

Mr. Wilson: Drama-8th grade. This was the height of the second custody battle of my parents, the one where I had to testify against my father, the one where I missed a lot of school and someone saw on my pass that I was out for court. There were rumors about what was “wrong” with me, what I had done to end up in court and he pulled me out of class one day to find out if I was doing okay and what was really going on…then he quietly pulled the two biggest gossip mongers aside and told them to shut their damn yaps. LOVE.

Mr. Z: English-7th or 8th grade. Honestly I’m not sure but the court battle started when I was 14 (the second one) so it could’ve been either. He was quirky and fun and told stupid jokes about kicks being for trids. He was understanding about my situation when I suddenly failed his class and called my mother (I didn’t tell anyone what was going on) had a conference with me and allowed me to make up all of my work if I really cared about passing. I did. He also got busted for dating an underage girl (she was in a bar, I’m not sure how he was supposed to know) and had to leave teaching in the states over the scandal.

Mr. Wiley: Biology 10th grade, Desert Biology 12th grade. Mr. Wiley is actually Dr Wiley but he got irritated if anyone ever called him that. He would save up all of his sick days, coming to class sick as a damn dog so he could bail on a large majority of the spring and go white water rafting or baja racing. We were allowed to bring our charges (the various desert animals we took care of) to class with us whenever we wanted and have them on our desks during tests. We watched moto climbing videos in class (where they climb rocky outcroppings with motorcycles) because we would have to identify the plant life as they passed it.

Mr. Howell: History 11th grade. Mr. Howell wore the most god-awful ties in the history of mankind. It became his signature and students would bring him new horrid ties to wear every year. He helped me learn to take copious and complete notes and because of them I ended up with a 104% in his class. He also suffered from migraines so one day when I went head down on my desk due to a flickering fluorescent light, he got up on a chair and unplugged it all while never stopping his lecture. He never explained what he was doing but winked at me when I picked my head back up.

Mr. Schlemmer: Criminology 12th grade. Mr. Schlemmer still had a mullet in 1993. He wore green converse EVERY DAY and when he found out that his color was being discontinued, he implored students to be on the look out for them. He wore political buttons on his sport coat and engaged us in political debates and discussions on the course of law. We did mock trials, we talked a lot and when I went back to visit him a few years after graduating, his class had so many freaks in it (green spiked mohawks, nose piercings, tattoos, weird clothes) you would’ve thought it was an art or drama class. He was cool…like Johnny from WKRP.

In Elementary School it wasn’t so much a specific teacher as the overall program. I LOVED going to school every day. I loved all the cool stuff my class did that other classes didn’t do. Since I was in the ALP/ELP program, we had a totally different and special curriculum that included marine biology, the renaissance/medieval period and tons of puzzles/brain teasers/logic problems. I loved having all the same kids (pretty much) from year to year.

I say it constantly but it saddens me that Sprog couldn’t have experienced school the way I did, I think he wouldn’t hate it as much as he does now and I wouldn’t be constantly battling him to give two shits about it.

{30 in 30} a picture sans make-up

Me sans make-up
So there that is, in all its glory. Including the lovely zit that is healing on my forehead from sleeping with an icepack.

Pretty, no?

{30 in 30} a picture from childhood

Ghetto fairy princess
I have no idea how old I am in this picture but I do know that I am at my Grandpa Warren’s house playing “fairy godmother” the flyswatter is my wand, I have a dishtowel around my waist and I have my step-grandmother’s shower cap on my head. Notice the Navajo rug in the background, gotta love the desert southwest :)

Here’s me in high school when I was a swim team coach. I’m over there on the left in the t-shirt and shorts.

{30 in 30} something that really scares me

There’s the easy thing to talk about: Cockroaches-crickets-beetles….any bug with spindly hairy legs. UGH. They creep me the fuck out. I will be the totally stereotypical girl and scream and shudder and run from the room. It all stems from my little brother and his torture tactics. You see, he used to catch whatever he could get his grubby little paws on (in Arizona, this means crickets) and throw it down my shirt. Then that nasty little creature would try frantically to get out of it’s new fabric prison using my body as its ladder *shudder* You can imagine the complication that happened when I started having to wear a bra, yes?


The harder thing to talk about is a serious illness befalling my child. When Sprog was wee, we spent a lot of time at Texas Children’s Hospital. A LOT. We saw all manner of specialists. We had all manner of tests. We were in for weeks at a time. He was poked and prodded, he was strapped to various machines, he was in the stainless steel army crib, he almost spent his first Christmas in the hospital (got out just two days prior) he was diagnosed and mis-diagnosed with diseases that no one has ever heard of, hospital staff included. It was a very scary and taxing time and it went on FOR YEARS. He was hospitalized 5 times before the age of 4 years old and that isn’t counting the other times where he just had nebulizer treatments (they finally gave us one at home) or bronchitis or pneumonia or he busted his eye open and had to have stitches or he had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and so on and so on.

He turned blue and no one, NOT A SINGLE DAMN PERSON could tell us why. He was rushed past sick children in hospital beds in hallways. HALLWAYS. The hospital was 103% of capacity but my kid got a room. If that doesn’t tell you your child is in dire straights, I don’t know what does. They put an IV in his freaking forehead at one point (he ripped it out of his hand).

After 8 specialists thought he had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis he was finally diagnosed with something called HSP (the longer name is way too much to type out with the umlauts and shit) and is something that only one other person in the ENTIRE hospital had even heard of. When we later had to rush him to the emergency clinic (affiliated with the hospital) they had no idea what we were talking about and the nurse practitioner had to go double check the information I gave her about what he had.

One (extremely young and well meaning) doctor tried to convince me that my son was hard of hearing because he refused to talk to her. He refused to talk because at that point all doctors terrified him and he was tired, so very tired of being stabbed with needles, jammed with scopes, poked and prodded by strangers and trying to sleep in strange rooms.

We couldn’t even take him to the park, zoo or museums because they are by the hospital and he would freak out and start to cry the minute I took that exit from the freeway.

He’s been really good since he entered school, other than the chicken pox and one bout of the flu, he’s been a really healthy kid…but always in the back of my mind I hold the fear that shoe is going to drop again and it’s not over for us. I really REALLY hope that isn’t the case. He’s been through a lot already.

{30 in 30} what’s in a name

I’ve had this blog for what…4 years now? Man. That doesn’t seem right but I’m pretty sure my first post here was back in 2007. Technically I think it was August 2007 so it’s more like just over 3 years but whatever. I was originally spewing my thoughts all over myspace (UGH) and got fed up with various issues and after Jennie jumped ship, I decided it sounded like a great idea. I already had this domain name because I thought I was going to use it for a handmade card business and I thought that was a cute catchy name for cards…you know…Just Express-ing yourself…so the place you got them would be Just Expressive. *shrug*

In the beginning of the blog it was subtitled The Diary of Bess which is what my dad’s (my real father here) girlfriend (the serious one that stuck around for almost 4 years) called me but one day I decided to change my theme and that dropped off and I just stuck with the main title.

Just Expressive is now my Etsy shop name, my twitter handle and some other things online. It’s a lot easier name to get, usually, than my other online moniker because there aren’t a lot of little gothlings running around trying to snatch it up. I like it, it fits. I am Just Expressive. No matter what creative outlet I into at the moment, I am always going to be expressing something.

{30 in 30} fifteen little things

I am going to attempt to list 15 things about myself. I always struggle with bios, “about me”s and lists like these so we’ll see how it goes.

1. I had my first migraine at 12 years old
2. I was born with red hair
3. I lived in Mesa, Az until the morning after I graduated high school
4. I coached a swim team of 8 yrs old and under children
5. I often find bruises that I have no idea how I got
6. I am a majah weepah (said in my best Jude Law voice) and hate things that make me cry so I try to avoid them, which means I haven’t seen a lot of movies.
7. I used to be such an avid reader growing up that I had a limit of how many books I could have at one time.
8. I was given my own gun at 12 years old
9. My favorite candy is hot tamales
10. I was baptized Presbyterian but I have only been into a Presbyterian church twice in my life: once to be baptized and once when my mother married my step-father
11. I used to be a major sleep-walker and when I get really stressed I still do. I have woken up in various places including: the refrigerator and was also found in the back of my neighbors car.
12. My artistic endeavors in school included: tap-dancing, choir, cello and photography
13. The only bone I have ever broken (now knocking on wood) is my ass
14. Nag Champa is my favorite incense and burning it instantly calms me down if I am in a pissy mood
15. Pets I’ve had in my lifetime: dogs, one cat, bunnies, praying mantis, snake, iguana, rats, mice, parakeet, koi fish and beta fish