Monday, November 24, 2014

Thus speaketh Bradley

Just wanted to throw out a few random thoughts for this Monday morning:

-- I loved Sam's post yesterday. It got me to thinking about several things, and I wanted to mention them here.

It made me go back and remember some of my early experiences when I came out at 15. I remember quite vividly worrying about what other people might think when I did come out and start to free myself from what Sam called the "box" we get put in about how guys are suppose to be. 

And then there's that whole other layer of how you internalize everything you're told about what it means if you decide to come out of that box and just be yourself. That you should hate yourself -- That you should live in fear -- That you should live your life in doubt.

And how it takes strong courage to know who you really are inside and then live your life being true to yourself. And Sam? Your post yesterday inspired me to continue my determination to refuse to live in any box other people might insist I live in. I love how you're discovering that your soul is too beautiful to be imprisoned in a box, and I feel so lucky to get to see it up close.

-- I'm really excited again this year about Thanksgiving. As I mentioned before, we're doing a new family celebration this year as Matty's family and my family join together to celebrate this season and enjoy a wonderful meal (and desserts!) together. 

My pie-baking begins in earnest on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am SO HAPPY they have given me those two days off from work. Our Thanksgiving Recess from school begins Wednesday and goes through December 1, so not only do I get more time to bake, but I'll have more time with my honey at home in the evenings!

My dad and I are still working on the musical entertainment. He's a lot further along in his guitar skills since he's been playing for so long, and he's being so patient with me as I try and catch up. And, OMG, I am discovering that maybe -- just maybe -- I have a half-decent singing voice! Who knew? He pointed it out, which made me a little self-conscious at first, but -- maybe if I can get over some of my shyness, and in particular my social shyness, maybe I might (softly) add my voice to some of the lyrics!

Okay, those are my two random thoughts for today. Thus speaketh Bradley! Carry on! LOL

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sundays with Sam: A real test

Hi every one! It's that time of the week again. Time for your Sunday host (that's me, Sam-I-Am, in case you forgot who posts on Sundays! LOL) to give you a little to think about.

I will probably be saying more about this a little later on, but for now I felt this strongly enough to at least mention it now. I almost decided not to write about this but I am learning that when I keep thinking about some thing over and over, then I need to figure out what it means. Plus this is about some thing I keep hidden deep inside me and they say in my counseling program that when you keep important things like this hidden inside, then it might mean you are ashamed of it, and I am so tired of feeling shame over every little thing.

So here's the deal. We have a House Meeting once a month where I live now and it's when all the House Mates can bring up any thing bothering us, or we can make suggestions about how to improve things, and we always go over chore rotation to make sure every body agrees to what we're suppose to do. That kind of thing. So at the last House Meeting I said I wanted to put up a few Thanksgiving decorations, you know, just some of those little adorable tiny pumpkins you see at the grocery store and maybe some cut-out cardboard turkeys and stuff like that.

Well, every body thought that was a fine idea and I agreed to be in charge of arranging that for Thanksgiving. I thought it would make things around the house look a little festive and I've never had the opportunity to do some thing like this before, so I'm kind of excited to do this. When I lived with my parents I use to put up a small cardboard turkey in my room and I would always look at it and think about it Thanksgiving and what other families would be doing when they got together.

But here's what I was referring to at the beginning of my post, that thing I keep thinking and thinking about and probably feel some shame about. Okay, I'm just going to say it even though I hesitate because maybe it is not politically correct or some thing, so I don't mean any offense to any one. I am seriously just trying to be honest and get at the bottom of this thing that keeps bothering me inside.

When it comes time for Christmas, I want to go all out in decorating the house with lots and lots of Christmas decorations. And I want to have a Christmas tree that is loaded down with tons of decorations, like those blinking lights you see sometimes on TV and tinsel and an angel on the top and some of those bright shiny ornament balls and maybe a popcorn string going round and round the tree and maybe a Sam-I-Am ornament, and all kinds of stuff like that.

I want to go all out and make every thing look pretty and beautiful and fun. But see, the thing that is deep inside me and makes me feel some kind of shame, or what ever the feeling is, is feeling like this is not what a guy is suppose to be doing. Before you judge me, just hear me out, please.

I have never had a Christmas tree before. This will be the first time in my life I have a chance to have a Christmas tree and decorate it like I want. But the shame thing deep inside me is that I have spent almost my entire life trying to hide being gay. Kids in school (especially the guys) always got ridiculed and bullied any time they acted like they might be gay. You were suppose to be all macho and stuff and act a certain way and not step outside that box.

So, I have spent almost all my life trying to "act" straight and macho and "manly" and stuff like that. So the thing that did the most damage to me was trying to pretend I was straight and hide who I really am. You were not suppose to "act like a girl" if you were a guy or there would be Hell to pay. Well, I am trying to over come all that and not even think about which "Box" I am suppose to be in. I'm sick of trying to live in some body else's Box, you know? I have the right to go from one Box to the other Box, or to even stay out of Boxes all together!

So if I want to go out and find my very first Christmas tree and then decorate it all frilly and shiny and with tinsel and all those blinking lights you see and cute ornaments and a popcorn string going round and round, then I DO NOT want to feel bad about it. I DO NOT want to feel ashamed to be a GUY and enjoy getting into this.

And Screw being "macho" and all that. If I want to be "macho," then I will. And if I want to be "frilly" and decorate things with cute decorations, then I want to do that without feeling bad because "guys are not suppose to get into that kind of thing." Screw That! Sorry for being so intense about it, but I am trying to just be my Self. In a certain way, I guess this feels like a "test" for me. Am I going to keep pretending to be what other people want me to be, or am I going to just be my Self?

Man, I didn't expect this post to turn out so intense. I've been holding all this in for so long, it feels good to get some of it out. So for this year at Christmas, in addition to having RICK, my BOYFRIEND, by my side, and Brad and Matty and all of you beside me, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want my very first Christmas tree!

Imagine that. My very first Christmas tree ever. And I look forward to decorating. Exactly like I want. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie recipe

Hi everyone! As promised, here's the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie recipe I promised.

The recipe was handed down to me from my mom and I guess I always assumed she got it from her mom. I know my grandmother was a great cook and always shared her recipes. I told my mom I was going to share it and she said she didn't think it was one that came from my grandmother. So I did a search of "Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese" recipes and it looks like this one is a pretty standard one you can find on a lot of food sites.

And how do you like the adorable recipe graphic? Kari designed it and gave it to me as a gift! I absolutely LOVE what she did, so THANK YOU, Kari! It's actually a little uncanny how close it resembles how I actually look! I had to do a double-take when I first saw it! And don'tcha just love my chef hat and my chef coat! And, OMG, my CHEF POSE! Don't I look adorable? {{{Kari ♥}}}

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Speaking my appreciation

I've always had a hard time being direct in telling someone I appreciate them. I've written before about how I see myself as shy in social situations, but I've made a little progress in overcoming some of that lately. 

What I've learned is that if I'm in a social situation that is familiar and very predictable, I do pretty well. For example, as a restaurant Server I'm in "safe" territory and do really well. In that setting it's rare that I'm ever confronted with a situation where I have to go outside my comfort zone. It's very routine. It's very predictable. The range of unexpected things is somewhat small and manageable. I've actually gotten to a place where I feel moderately comfortable using some little humor with the diners (or Guests, which is what we're suppose to call them).

The Chef at my restaurant is a man of few words, but last week he actually told me, "Hey. I'm really glad you're here. I appreciate your commitment to what we're doing." At first I thought he was using the word "we're" in the royal sense, meaning, "I appreciate your commitment to what I'm doing here [meaning him]." When I said, "I really respect your work a lot,"  he looked at me funny and said, "And I respect your work, too. I meant what I said literally. I appreciate your commitment to what we're doing here. Together."

I actually got a little lightheaded because, well, this is HUGE to me. I get the feeling he sees the two of us in some kind of professional partnership, and to be honest, it's almost a little too much to take in. But I'm trying.

So this is what got me to thinking a lot about being appreciated, and also about how I appreciate a number of people but never tell them -- or sometimes how I make a "quiet" effort to tell someone I appreciate them. And I want to be more aware of this and try and be more direct because I know how important it is to me when someone expresses their appreciation.

So I made a little short list of some of some the people I want to express my appreciation to. It's still hard to do this in person or directly, even with people I know from online, which is kind of weird to me, because you'd think that would be the easiest, but I sometimes obsess over the best way to word my feelings. Anyway, I guess this is a start and I think that counts, too.

-- I appreciate Chef for seeing the passion in me that makes him believe I can make something out of my life by developing my interest, talent, and skill in cooking and baking. And for taking a risk on me by inviting me to his home to be his co-Chef for a dinner party he gave for his friends.

-- I appreciate someone like my friend Thorny Sterling who has believed in me for years now and has encouraged me to take some important things like my gender and my interest in all things femme seriously. And then to pour his heart into his wonderful book, SPLINTERS, and give all of us (and me) a glimpse into a character I can identify with and not feel so alone. Thank you, from Sparkles.

-- I appreciate my dad for reaching out to me when he felt something was missing in his heart by staying estranged. And I appreciate me, and the courage it took for me to feel that same loss and do my part to see if we can re-connect.

-- I appreciate all of you who stop by the blog and take an interest in what I have to say (sometimes about things that are minor and other times about things that are HUGE). And your generosity of heart always speaks to something in my heart that tells me I can trust that you really care.

-- And even though he hears it often, I never tire of telling My Sweet Matty how I appreciate the love that is his entire heart. To say anything more than that would maybe sound too cliche. And there is nothing cliche about the love from his heart.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tight nuts? Rusty tool?

I use WD-40 all the time. With all the projects I have around the house, this stuff comes in handy and works really well. It's helps me so much when I'm slowed down with too much resistance due to things being a little too dry. When my nuts are tight, WD-40 loosens them right up and I get the job done with the greatest ease.

This past weekend I went looking for my ratcheting flare nut wrench, which I hadn't used in a very long while. You can imagine my surprise and frustration when I discovered it was stiff with a little rust. My WD-40 loosened it right up and I got the job done. And just as advertised, it made my screwing a joy and pleasure.

And whatever they have in the solution, it really does penetrate better than anything else I've ever used. And like it says, the lubricating ingredient makes any dry passage a pleasure to use.

Standing 9 inches high (as advertised above), I'd highly recommend this product. And the man-size pressure pack guarantees you'll always have a good supply on hand when you need it. I keep a spare supply in my truck in case I need it for on-the-road emergencies. If I'm miles from a service center, my WD-40 will lubricate a dry passage and get me running again. What would I do without it?
Thanks to Susan for sending this to me after seeing it on BosGuy.Emoji                                       

Monday, November 17, 2014


First things first. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday! Your greetings here on the blog and on the link Matty posted on his Facebook page and on G+ meant a lot to me. I had a fabulous day and evening, thanks to my sweetie.

Matty had a series of "little"gifts for me that he gave me one by one throughout the day. Every single one of them made me smile and gave us a chance to kiss (as if we ever needed a reason to kiss, but still, these made me really happy and I'm always looking for a reason to kiss).

And then later in the afternoon he gave me "The Big One." No, not that big one for those of you who might have thoughts in the gutter! LOL. That Big One came later in the evening. Oh man, and "came" can be taken several ways. Geez. I need to move this post along! Ha ha!

Okay, let me try this again. My Main Gift was presented to be later in the afternoon. Oh wait. I consider Matty to be a gift in my life, and he's always presenting himself to me! LOL. Okay, one more try.

There's one of those Antique Barns a little further out in the suburbs and we like to go there sometimes to browse the little rooms and tables people have set up to display and sell interesting old and antique items. Well, we were there a few weeks ago and I spotted this boxed collection of old cooking utensils. I had no idea what some of the utensils were because the seller said some of them go back to the early twentieth century. Matty said some of them reminded him of Medieval torture devices, and he's not too far off.

Where we were there looking at the items, I guess I made the mistake of looking a little too excited and interested because I think the seller assumed he had a buyer and he was absolutely not all that interested in negotiating the hefty price he was asking. He came down a tiny bit, but it was still too much for our budget, so we left.

Well, Matty went back on another day without me and said there was a woman at the table and I guess she was more open to negotiating a better price, so he closed the deal and this was my Main Gift. I can't tell you how excited I was when I saw these antique cooking utensils! I'm still cleaning them up and want to somehow display them in our kitchen so I can enjoy them every day.

Matty also mentioned they would look perfect as props on a set when I get a TV cooking program! I think that's jumping the gun a bit, but.... who knows? I need to get through culinary school first, get some experience, and.... we'll see. It's fun to think about, though.

There were some lovely ceramic bowls included, along with a two-handed egg beater, but some of them are a little more esoteric (another word I've been dying to use lately). A few look like some pinchers and choppers and scrapers, but I guess if you're into torture, some of these items might be of interest. I'm hoping to get them arranged and displayed in the kitchen and I'll take some pictures and show you. Chef Bradley is on the move!

Matty also took me to a wonderful French restaurant later in the evening, and we had a fabulous time. Then back to the house for a relaxing evening in front of a nice fire. And for another, uh, "Big One" to end the evening. ;)

Coming up this week is my pumpkin pie (with cream cheese) recipe. And I'll be sharing it on a beautiful recipe display Kari made just for me -- with a graphic illustration of yours truly!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Living in the Now

Hello there every one! It's Sam-I-Am once again because it is Sunday once again! Hope every one is having a great day!

I've had a pretty good week. Well, I have had some ups and some downs but when I stop and look at the entire week, I have to say it was pretty good. I think I have a lot more reason to feel good about my life now than I did I did in the past, that's for sure.

There was some thing that happened in my group session last week and it was some thing that made me really sad and also anxious. But I am learning now that I can have feelings like those with out sinking down into a dark place. It's still not any fun, that's for sure, but I am learning a lot about how to handle this kind of thing.

So what happened was we got some bad news last week from one of the members of the group. It's this girl who told us she and her girlfriend broke up. I really like this girl a lot because she has always been very nice to me and I consider her a friend. She has been through some things in her past that have been horrible and she has been fighting really hard to over come all the bad feelings she has about things.

Well, she met this other girl about 6 months ago and she has been so happy about it. But her girlfriend also had tons of problems and they have had a rocky road trying to work through their issues and so they decided to take a break at first, but then they decided they needed to break up. This made me very sad because like I said, I really like the girl in my group. She always asks me about Rick and I always ask her about her girlfriend, and we just plain enjoy hanging out together at the program.

The anxious part of what I started feeling was thinking about me and Rick and our future. We have had some issues we have had to talk about and work through, and I have to say we have done a really good job. There was one misunderstanding at the beginning of the time we started dating (I think I wrote about that in one of my early posts), but we got things worked out because it was basically a misunderstanding and having an honest talk helped clear things up. But man, at the time I was scared we might break up. But since then we have gotten to know each other really well, so when things do come up, we kind of know how to work things out.

So both Rick and I feel secure in our relationship now but this whole thing with my friend in the group really made me feel un-settled. I told Rick about my friend breaking up with her girlfriend and he was so cool in how he handled it.

See, the thing about what I am learning with Rick is this: Both of us are free to bring up absolutely any thing that is on our mind and we can talk about what might be bothering us. That does not mean it is easy, because it's not. But like Rick told me one time, it doesn't matter if it's hard to do because it's important, and our love is important, so we need to bring up what ever is on our mind no matter how hard it might be.

I still feel really sad about my friend because she deserves to be happy after every thing that has happened to her. But really, ALL of us deserve to be happy because ALL of us have worth, you know? So I am going to try and be the best friend to her I can possibly be and give her lots of support because this must be an extremely hard thing to go through. I can only imagine what I might feel like if this happened to me and Rick, and I try to steer clear of those feelings because I can go into a panic just thinking about it.

I found that sign up there during the week and it got me to thinking a lot. I am not sure I totally understand every idea in what it says, but this is what I got out of it:

If I keep dwelling on the past and all the unhappiness I went through, then I am going to plunge down into a dark place and I have lived there for so long that I am fighting my best to stay out of that.

And if I dwell on all the things that might happen in the future, I am going to have a high anxiety about it because there have been way more negative things in my past and I have always felt like the odds of me having a good future have been extremely slim.

But like the last line of the sign says, it is more important for me to "live in the now," and appreciate every thing I have now and remind my self that the past and the future will pop up but I have to remember to pull my self back to where I am now. I'm not sure if I'm explaining that the best way, but when I bring myself back to the now, I get a more peaceful feeling.

Like I have said before, I feel way more hope for my self now than I ever have before. But this also means that what I have now is more precious and if I lose it, then it is going to be extremely painful. Rick and I were talking about this (see how cool he is that we can have these kind of talks?), and he said that made a lot of sense to him. So the choice is: 1. Don't ever have any thing precious in your life, because when you lose it, there is a lot of pain. 2. Let your self have precious things and enjoy what you have because your life has joy and meaning and direction.

So the lesson for me is this: I am tired of living in dark sadness, so that first choice sucks. Yeah, I won't have any pain over losing some thing precious, but just look at what my life would be like every day if I take that choice. It's just more of the same with no hope. So I am taking the second choice, even if it means there is the possibility of losing some thing precious if it does not last. I am so determined to get out of the past. And I am trying to be determined to get out of living in the future. And the only way I can do either of those things is to "live in the now."

Well, that is all I have for this Sunday. I sincerely hope every one enjoys the day and I hope all of us can "live in the now," because that is where life should be lived. In my opinion.

Love and hugs, Sam-I-Am. See ya next Sunday!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Brad!

Guess who turned 22 today?

Happy Birthday, my love! You're getting two dozen red roses 
and I'm sending your mom a dozen white roses 
since she was responsible for giving birth to the man I love.

Love you,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Slow down: It's the little things

If you follow our blog with any regularity, you've probably noticed most of the posts lately have been from me. Matty put up a brief, silly post on the day we changed the clocks, but it's been about 2½ weeks ago since he last posted.

We love keeping this blog so much and both of us always look forward to posting about various things happening in our lives. We try to put a lot of thought into what we share and believe me, what we get back from all of you is frankly way more than we ever imagined when we started back in April 2011.

It's so cool to see some of the same people who started out with us on this journey still here. And we've been thrilled to see so many new people join us at various points during the 3½  
years we've been here.

Wow, after re-reading what I just wrote, I guess it sounds like we're closing shop. But we're not. Not only would both of us feel so lost without this outlet, but we'd miss all the interaction you guys contribute to this labor of love. We'd miss all of you because you've become this really cool, caring community that has become important to us.

When we first started blogging, we figured we'd take a few days out of each week to share some of the things happening in our lives. We hoped to share some of the humorous things happening to help put a smile on everyone's face. And we hoped to share some of the more serious things we were going through, or at least share some of the important things on our mind. 

We never imagined so many caring and supportive people would find us and each other through this little space we created here. In many ways it feels like you guys have taken what we write about and have become this lovely, interactive community that we've come to rely on when we need your support, your advice, your concern, your feedback, and your laughs. And we especially love seeing how many of you interact with each other -- asking each other questions, showing your concern and support when someone opens up a little about their own lives.

We always try to keep a positive and upbeat tone here, because there's just way too much negativity in the world. It's been so exciting to share some of the major and exciting things happening now in our lives: 

-- Matty deciding to write his children's book to help kids (and maybe adults) with ADHD not feel so alone and to inspire some hope.

-- Me sharing some of the joy of having my culinary potential seen by someone who is taking an interest in my career.

-- Matty thinking out loud about how he's coming to terms with how highly successful his family seems to him, and his struggle to see his own work as something he's successful at in it's own right.

-- My hesitancy at first to re-engage with my dad to see if we can repair our relationship after a lifetime of tension and neglect. And my joy now at how real it feels that, dammit, we're both doing the hard work to make it what we both want it to be -- finally.

But. . .

If you notice the title of my post, Matty and I have had some serious talks lately about how we both need to slow down some things in the rest of our lives. School and work for both of us has been extremely stressful lately. I've been losing some weight which I can't afford to do because I'm rushing to classes, then rushing to work, then rushing home, then rushing to get class assignments completed, then doing it all over again the next day. I'm not eating right and I already have some depression going on, so I need to slow down and take better care of myself. I can't sustain all this at the current rate, so I need to slow some things down.

Matty has gotten caught up in the same cycle. He's gotten these really bad headaches lately and has trouble getting restful sleep at night, sometimes with nightmares about his attack thrown in. The time available for him to do his school work is somewhat limited because it's extremely hard for him to study at night when his meds are wearing off. So he's been trying to spend time at the library during the day or the weekends, but that has it's own special challenges which he said he might share at some point.

Both of us always look forward to our evening hours. Matty gets home fairly early in the evening and loves to putter around the house, work on his carvings, and chat with a close friend of his. Those are some of the highlights of his day (in addition to looking forward to when I get home! lol).

I'm working all late shifts at the restaurant now (with classes during the day), but I can honestly say one of the highlights of my day is pulling in our driveway after work, walking in the front door, and seeing the man I love break out in a huge smile and welcome me home. There Is Almost No Better Feeling To Me Than This. I immediately slow down inside and all the stress from the day leaves my body.

We're going to see how we can make some positive changes in our routine to take better care of ourselves. Keeping the blog is a highlight for us, but we're slowing down at least for the rest of this week. Matty has something very positive to post on Saturday, and the Sam will have his regular Sunday post. Then we plan to be back next week, hopefully a lot more refreshed and renewed because of some of the positive things we're going to be doing to take better care of ourselves.

Wow, this post ended up being a little longer than I planned. But you know what? That's why keeping the blog is so important to us. I always feel so much better -- renewed and refreshed in a way -- after writing a post. And the icing on the cake? Reading your comments afterwards. 

Thanks for being a part of our lives. Hopefully you'll be seeing a more relaxed and refreshed duo coming up. Love you guys.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's that time

Image credit: Home Decorating/Facebook
I think of all the seasons, the one we are in now is my favorite. I really like Spring also, but Fall probably edges past Spring by just a hair! -- Just wait for Spring and I'll probably say I love that one better than Fall! I'm a little fickle like that! LOL

Even though I'm not particularly fond of the sun going down so early, I love all the bundling up you have to do to stay warm. We've been using the fireplace lately and it's such a treat to come home after working late to a nice warm fire and seeing all the pillows and blankets Matty has arranged in front of it, just waiting for me to join him there. Second only to a nice warm bubble bath (which I adore like you can't imagine), cuddling in front of a fire like this is to soothing and relaxing to me.

The other reason I love this season is because my Inner Baking Goddess comes out big-time! This is the Season of Baking for me, and I stock up on cinnamon, plenty of oranges for Orange Peel, cloves, nutmeg, and so forth. And the wonderful aroma wafting through the house always make me happy. (I've been waiting for the chance to use the word "wafting." LOL) 

And there's just something special about Matty out in the yard raking leaves (which he LOVES doing), and me in the kitchen baking all these pies and pastries. And then the two of us sitting down with a nice cup of hot chocolate  and enjoying what I've made.

I'm going to be sharing some of my favorite recipes in upcoming posts, so stay tuned. The first one will be the one for pumpkin pie Matty's mom asked me to make for our Thanksgiving dinner -- the one with cream cheese. I haven't yet decided how many to make, but I'm definitely baking a special one just for Matty's mom. I'll sneak it in separately and give it to her privately! And yes, I'm sure I'm lining myself up for a nice hug and kiss on the cheek for that!! I'm a little sneaky like that! :)

Do you have a favorite season?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Deserving a family

Hello every one! Time for Sam-I-Am once again. Hope every one is having a good day.

I always try to keep things on my Sunday post as positive as I can. And before you read any further I want to make sure every one knows this is gong to end up on a positive note. I am trying my best to stay on the positive side of things now, but I know some of my posts in the past have covered things I would much rather forget.

There are probably some things that have happened that most of us would probably like to erase, but that's just not going to really happen. We have to decide whether we are going to let what happened in the past defeat us, or make us stronger.

Wow, after that last sentence, you can call me Dr. Sam! HA! That is some thing we talked about last week in my group session and believe me, it was a rough session, but I think some good came out of it. The lady running the group this week thought it would be a good idea for us to think some about the holidays that are coming soon, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was explaining that this time of year is some times hard for people who have been through some of the things we have been through.

I started getting tense inside when she talked about how there is so much attention to happy families during the holidays because that was certainly not true for me. It didn't matter whether it was the holidays or just any other day, it was pretty much the same.

Every body in the group seemed to get quiet while she was explaining all this and I could tell no body really wanted to discuss this particular topic. All of us have shared different things from our past so I knew I was not alone in how I was starting to feel tense.

I try to forget a lot of the bad stuff, but one of the main points that came out of this group discussion was that trying to forget doesn't really solve any thing. She said there is nothing wrong with pushing things aside if they get too painful to remember, and you can always come back to it later when you feel stronger. So that made a lot of sense to me.

And then we discussed some ideas for how to use those bad things so they don't defeat us and we end up living miserable lives. Now we were getting on a positive drift and I liked that a lot so I tried to pay attention to see if I could get some thing out of all this.

So we got an assignment to work on. They are ALWAYS giving us assignments, but at least they don't call it "Homework" because all of us objected to that word since it reminds us of school! HA! So they changed it to assignments which we all liked a lot better! HA!

So the assignment was to write in our Journal about how we have not let the bad stuff in the past defeat us. I wanted to share one paragraph I wrote with all of you:

+ It would be easy for me to keep feeling bitter about how my family treated me and let this defeat me. And I have to be honest and say I still have some strong bitter feelings about certain things. It's just not right in any form or fashion to treat your kid like they have no feelings whatsoever. Because they do and no kid deserves to always be put down. But I am learning now that there are plenty of other people who can give you love and support and encouragement and I am trying to be around those people as much as I can. It was hard at first to let all that love in, but I am finally allowing it to happen. So that is one way I am determined NOT to let all the bad stuff turn me into a bitter person.

Oh, guess what? I am spending Thanksgiving with RICK's family this year!! They are a perfect example of what I was talking about in that paragraph I just wrote. They have accepted me as a member of their family, which is so cool, but I have to be honest and say it is almost too good to be true. His family is light-years different from mine. There is really no comparison. When I go over there to visit, they genuinely seem to be happy I'm there. And there is nothing fake about it, because believe me, I can tell fake when I see it. And this is not fake.

So his mom said they would love for me to come to their Thanksgiving Dinner, which I thought was an honor to be asked. I almost got teary eyed (which I continue to do a lot, by the way) when she asked me. RICK (my BOYFRIEND) had not said any thing about it because he told me afterwards his mom wanted to ask me personally. I thought that was nice but wasn't exactly sure what to make of that. And Rick said, "I think she loves seeing how your face lights up when she does some thing nice for you."

Well you know what happened next, right? I got really teary-eyed over that. My head starts getting all mushy inside when I find out some one feels this way about me. It's the best feeling in the world, but it's also so new to me that it always catches me off guard. Now I'm even tearing up just typing this, but that's how I honestly feel inside.

So I promised that this post would end up on a positive note, and I hope it has. I am very happy I have not let all the stuff in my past make me a bitter person. You know how I wrote last week about Halloween? It was the first time in my life I ever celebrated Halloween and I had the best time ever. It was like it made up for all the years I never celebrated that holiday.

Last year, Brad and Matty invited me and RICK to spend Thanksgiving Day with them, and we had the most wonderful time with them. They have been like a family to me. And this year I get to spend Thanksgiving with RICK and my other family! It is so cool to me that I am finally, after all this time, getting to understand what "Family" is all about. RICK says I deserve a Real Family. And I am finally starting to feel that, well, maybe I do. And believe me, it's the best feeling in the world.

Hope every one has a great week. Love and Hugs from Sam-I-Am!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Double Happy Whammy

So many good things have happened to me lately and I wanted to share this with all of you.

I got a sweet call the other day from Matty's mom about Thanksgiving plans. It's not unusual for her to periodically contact me just to say hi. You may remember a short while back Matty wrote a post about how she likes me better (LOL). I know she contacts him also, but I'm not sure how frequently. I'm sure I get more messages from her because, well, she likes me better. LOL. (I'm totally being humorous here about this!)

But seriously, she's an extremely busy person so it means a lot to me when she sends me a little something to let me know I was on her mind. She also wanted to see if I would be interested in bringing "one of those fabulous pies you always make" to the dinner. And then she described one of the pies I've made in the past, which meant a lot to me. Instead of saying something generic like, "Maybe you could bring a pumpkin pie," she said, "Remember that pumpkin pie you brought two years ago? The one that had the cream cheese in it? Even after two years my mouth still waters thinking about that one."

Oh man. I almost started crying when she said that. And that was TWO years ago and she still remembers it! That might sound like a small thing to some people, but to me it really meant a lot. When I told Matty about what she said, he smiled and said, "You matter to  her." And then I did start crying!

It was like a Double Happy Whammy! 

First it made me so happy that a simple pie I created still brings such joy to her that she remembers it two years later. See, the thing for me about food is that I spend a lot of time preparing it and hope it's a very pleasurable thing for the diner to enjoy. But obviously eating a meal doesn't take all that much time. You eat. You (hopefully) enjoy it. Life goes on.

So for her to remember my pie two years later is incredibly satisfying to me. That is exactly the ideal goal of cooking for me. You eat. You enjoy. Life goes on -- and the meal becomes a memorable experience you take with you.

Secondly, Matty is rarely a man of few words (said with deep affection). So when he just looked at me and said that very brief sentence, "You matter to her," it felt like he summed up something really important to me. That people think I'm important enough to remember. And that I'm important enough for them to tell me.

Of course I was extremely honored she wanted me to make that pumpkin pie that had cream cheese in it. I was so happy that after two years she still remembered it, not only because the pie itself brought enjoyment to her at the time, but also because she remembered I was the one who made that pie, which means she remembers me. 

I'm not sure I'm expressing myself clearly with that last sentence, because of course she remembers me, pie or no pie. But that there's this association between something I prepared, and it having an impact she still carries around in her memory. And she still, two years later, wants me to know that. I'm a little teary right now typing this out. That really means a lot to me.

So of course I'm making her another pumpkin pie with cream cheese in it. I'll probably have to make sure my tears of joy don't drip in the mixing bowl when I make it, because I already know I'm going to be filled to the brim with joy on my pie-baking day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nothing like us together

To my Matty,

There's nothing like us...

Your face was so adorable to me while we were running all those errands we needed to do this weekend. I knew your heart wasn't into it even a tiny bit, but you made the best of it and thoroughly entertained me the whole time with all your silly jokes...

And I could tell you didn't want your face to give it away about how bored you were while we were doing the house cleaning that needed to be done. I knew your heart wasn't into that one tiny bit either, but I loved how you said we had to take a break every 20 minutes so you could bring me a coffee and cookies and just relax with me...

And I adored how your face told me how important you thought I was when you rearranged your plans to go swimming at the gym so you could sit down with me for a few hours and help me with that class assignment I was having all kinds of problems with...

And I felt so cared for when I saw how excited and happy were after you got that wonderful fire going so you could cuddle with me for the evening...

There really is nothing like you and me together.

You, my sweet, are my heart. Forever. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Will wonders never cease?

This has certainly been the year of major positive family developments for me.

-- First, after a long history of conflict and distance from my dad, he made an overture to see if he and I could start spending some time together and maybe open some communication to see if we might move things forward in our relationship.

-- We both agreed and began hanging out together (a phrase I never in my wildest dreams would have used about the two of us).

-- After some casual time together, we began to talk -- just ever so slightly -- about what we've both been up to.

-- I've learned that I am an adult son who can relate to his adult dad, instead of me being a hurt little kid. I've done some growing up. And my dad has stepped up to the plate.

-- Then my dad offered to teach me to play the guitar, which I've always wanted to learn. He's really good and it was a major step forward in how we started connecting with each other.

-- Then one day while he was giving me a lesson -- with just some light and casual conversation mixed in -- he went in the other room, returned, and handed me my grandfather's guitar and said he wanted me to have it.

And now another major new positive development:

-- Since Matty and I have been together, we have always visited our respective families for Thanksgiving. Either going to see Matty's family first, then my family afterwards, or vise versa. But this year Matty's family has invited my family to join them for one big Thanksgiving dinner. So we're all going over to Matty's parents' home for Thanksgiving. Matty and I, my mom, dad, and sister, and Matty's mom, dad, and his two brothers. Along with a few extended family.

Matty's parents have been aware of the history of problems my dad and I have had, so I've been telling them about all these new developments and they've been incredibly happy and hopeful for me. So not too long ago, they asked me how I would feel about them inviting my folks and my sister to their home for Thanksgiving. I almost started crying because that's a huge major positive development.

My parents and sister felt very moved about the invitation and immediately accepted.

So now I can add one more new major positive family development to the list. A joining of our two families for our Thanksgiving celebration.

My mom, who is an incredible cook, offered to help prepare the dinner. And Matty's mom, who is also an incredible cook, graciously accepted. I almost offered to help, too, because, well, you know... Chef Bradley? But I talked to Matty first about it and he helped me think through what I wanted to do. I decided this would be such a cool thing for our moms to bond around, so I'm going to enjoy the meal the Two Mom Chefs prepare.

I decided to ask my dad if he would be interested in the two of us preparing the musical entertainment for the gathering. And he said he'd love to. So we're going to be deciding on some guitar music and will be practicing during the next couple of weeks for some duo guitar, and maybe solo, entertainment for everyone.

This is almost too good to be true. But believe me, I'm going with it. Will wonders never cease?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sundays with Sam: The Pirate and his First Mate

Thank you to Yukari (Kari) Bromfield
for painting this of me in my Halloween
costume! My arm got a little tired holding up

the sign while I was posing for the painting, 
but I think it turned out extremely well!!
Ahoy out there ye mates! (That is pirate talk for "Hello every one!" LOL) This is Sam-I-Am-A-Pirate! How do you like the portrait my friend Kari made of me? I LOVE it so much! When she sent it to me last week it put a HUGE smile on my face and I kept going back to look at it 4 or 5 times, or one day even about 10 times! And RICK, my BOYFRIEND, loved it a LOT! He said it looked exactly like me! HA HA!!

I don't want to go overboard (see, I am still using Pirate talk because "overboard" is ship talk! LOL), but I have never, ever gotten this much attention in my life. Or maybe I should say positive attention. The paintings and signs and comments all of you leave for me have helped me feel so much better about my self and it means a lot to me.

Well I am happy to report that RICK and I had a terrific Halloween celebration. Rick's mom volunteers at a hospital out this way and Rick and I joined her to help the patients and their families have a Halloween celebration since they could not be home. I am so happy I did this because I was worried I might be too self conscious about dressing up as a Pirate. I have never done any thing like this before and it may sound silly or some thing but I actually worried I might not know how to act.

But guess what kind of costume RICK decided to wear? Give up? He dressed up as my First Mate! He knew I was a little worried about the whole thing and on his own without me even suggesting it, he decided to go as First Mate, so we were both wearing Pirate costumes. He told me I was the Captain Pirate and I asked him if that meant that I could give him orders? HA HA!

So we had a bunch of fun with that one, believe me! Even before we left for the hospital, since I was the Captain, I ordered him to give me a kiss, and then some other orders along those lines, and he followed my Orders perfectly! But that is all I am going to share because he now reads my posts on Sunday and he might turn all different shades of Red. HA HA. But I will say this: He was a very good First Mate and followed Captain Sam's orders perfectly so I think I will keep him as my First Mate! HA HA!! Good job, First Mate! LOL

When we got to the hospital we were all given assignments about what we were suppose to do. And even though I was the Pirate Captain, there was a Volunteer Admiral so we all had to follow her orders since she was the Admiral! HA HA! So Captain Sam and First Mate RICK followed her orders and we were asked to be in the Lobby close to the front door and wish every one coming in a Happy Halloween. They also had a bunch of candy we could give out and there were even some healthy snacks, too, like little boxes of raisins and some dried fruit (that in my opinion looked un-appetizing) and some nice apples and oranges (much better. LOL).

Man, I had the best time doing this. And guess what a lot of people wanted to do? They asked if they could take our picture with some of the little kids who came to visit whoever they were there to see!! And the kids were so excited to have their picture taken with two pirates! And some of them started asking us questions like, "Are you a real pirate?" So we just played along with them and made different Pirate sounds like, "ARRRRRR!" and "Aye, Aye!" but we didn't make it sound too scary because I didn't want them to start crying. But we answered their questions in a humorous way and man, did they love that!

And it was so cool to see their parents smile. And guess what else? At least five different women (I don't know if they were parents or just people who came on their own) wanted their pictures taken with us! And one woman (she was SO funny!!) said, "I want a picture with the two handsome Pirates so I can make my husband jealous!" HA HA! I am so glad we were in costume because the LAST thing I need is a jealous husband trying to track me and Rick down!! HA HA!

Then after a while, the nurses told the Volunteer Admiral that there were some patients who said it would be okay for some of us to go to their rooms to wish them a Happy Halloween, so RICK and I volunteered along with some of the other volunteers. I am so glad we got to go to some of their rooms because the patients we saw seemed to look so happy we were there, and that made my heart feel so big.

When we walked in some rooms, a few people looked sort of sad or maybe it was tired, and when we walked in they got big smiles on their faces. And then we visited an older woman who looked like she might be some body's grandma. I almost started crying because for a split second it reminded me of my own grandma who also had to be in the hospital before she died. But when we walked in the room she got the most beautiful smile on her face and I am pretty sure her eyes twinkled because I think she might have had a few tears. I might have imagined that, or else it was my own eyes that might have had a few tears in them. And it was so sweet when she reached out and held our hands while we talked to her.

We also got to visit some of the children in this big room where they had lots of toys. The Volunteer Admiral told us they also use the room for story-time and other activities and it was bright and cheery and had a happy feel to it. And some of the younger ones came over and there was this one little boy who said he saw me and Rick in a Pirate movie! So we played along with him and Rick asked him what he liked about the movie and he started telling us different things he remembered.

And then some of the kids brought some books over and wanted me to read stories to them. I was so proud of my self when I asked this one little boy if he ever had a Pirate read a story to him and his eyes got so big and he said "No. Can you read this one to me?" so naturally I said, "Yes" and I read a short picture book to him. I almost thought he was going to sleep at one point because he looked so relaxed. And that made me really happy that he trusted me like that.

It kind of made for a long night because after we left the hospital, Rick's mom took us to get some ice cream at this really cool place. And I was SO proud of my self for actually going inside all dressed up as a Pirate, along with my First Mate. The people there smiled at us and seemed to enjoy our costumes and I feel that was a big victory for me. I actually DID NOT feel self conscious! and believe me, that surprised me big-time!

After the ice cream, Rick's mom thanked both of us and seemed so happy we wanted to do this volunteer work. She then left to go home and when we got in my First Mate's car to leave (hey, the Captain does not drive while on land!! HA HA!), I decided to give the First Mate an order. I told him to take both of us to my house and then ordered him to spend the night with me! He played along and said, "Aye, aye, Captain. But what about all the other mates?" And with out missing a beat, I said, "The Captain does not want to sleep with the other mates." And then he said, "But what do you think the other Mates will think if I sleep with the Captain?" and I said, "If they have any problem with it, I'll make them walk the plank." HA HA!!

Oh man! We both got a HUGE laugh out of that! He's so much fun to joke around with. So when we got to my house, I have to say my First Mate followed my orders perfectly - with out complaining. I gave him a few other orders once we were in the Captain's Quarters. But I can't tell you what those orders were because my First Mate would turn bright Red if I did. HA HA! I'm even blushing right now just thinking about it. But afterwards I told him he followed orders like a good First Mate and he said, "Well, my Captain. I aim to please."

I think I am going to keep my First Mate around. I liked being a little bossy with him and he seemed to like being bossed! HA HA! We definitely had a great time, not only at the hospital, but in Captain's Quarters afterwards.

That's all for this week, mates. Thanks for stopping by once again.
See you next Sunday!Emoji