May/June Expirations

Unfortunately, trading is NOT my day job or I would probably not be so far behind.

3/26 TWTR May1 51/53 call spread .55 deb

  • b/e 51.55
  • max pro 145
  • max loss 55
  • cost 2.5
  • b/p (57.50)  WRONG DIRECTION TRADE UGH! Closed right away
3/25 TSLA May 14 IC 290/295/185/180 1.75
  • b/e 183.25/291.75
  • max pro 175
  • max loss 325
  • cost 5
  • b/p (330) 5/14 closed for .97 winner!
4/2 FB May 14 70/72.5/55 2.22 cr
  • b/e 52.78/72.22
  • max pro 222
  • max loss 5278
  • cost 3.75
  • b/p (741.25)  4/25 closed for 1.01
4/2 TWTR May 14 50/52.5 .65 cr
  • b/e 50.65
  • max pro 65
  • max loss 185
  • cost 2.5
  • b/p (187.50) 5/5 closed for .05 deb…winner!
4/7 DDD May 55/60 call 1.41 cr (need to stay below 55)
  • b/e 56.38
  • max pro 141
  • max loss 359
  • cost 2.5
  • b/p (364.50) 4/28 closed for .73 deb Winner!
4/7 AMZN May 340/345 call 1.40 (need to stay below 340)
  • b/e 341.40
  • max pro 140
  • max loss 360
  • cost 2.5
  • b/p (362.50) closed 4/25 for 1.14 winner! (got out too soon. Had closing order in and forgot to cancel before open :( )
4/15 P May 27/28 call .32 cr (want stock to head south)
  • b/e 27.32
  • max pro 32
  • max loss 68
  • cost 2.5
  • b/p (70) 5/7 closed for .05 winner!
4/21 QQQ May5 89.5/90.5/84. JL 1.11 cr
  • b/e 83.39
  • max pro 111
  • max loss 8339
  • cost 3.75
  • b/p ((222)
  • 5/21 closed put side for .05
  • 5/30 closed call vert for .98   (.08 winner)
4/21 RSX May 23/24 call .45 debit
  •        5/13 closed for .81 winner!
4/21 PWR may 36/37 call .50 debit
  • Max loss :(
4/22 COST calendar May/May1 115 call .48 deb
  • b/e n/a
  • max pro n/a
  • max loss n/a
  • cost 2.50
  • b/p (50.50)
  • 4/28 rolled May1 to May2 for .32 credit
  • 5/5 rolled May2 to May for .24 credit
4/22 MCD calendar May/May1 100 call .38 deb
  • b/e n/a
  • max pro n/a
  • max n/a
  • cost 2.50
  • b/p (40.50)
  • 4/28 rolled May1 to May2 for .35 credit
  • 5/5 rolled May2 to May for .30 credit
4/29 DDD Jun 48/49 call .30 credit
  • b/e 48.30
  • max pro 30
  • max loss 70
  • cost 2.50
  • b/p (72.50)
  • 6/18 closed 48 for 5.70 deb
  • 6/19 closed 49 for 4.30 cr  small loss
4/29 AMZN 315/320 call 1.30 cr
  • b/e 316.30
  • max pro 130
  • max loss 370
  • cost 2.50
  • b/p (372.5)
  • 6/18 closed 315 for 15.90 deb
  • 6/19 closed 320 for 17.70 credit  Winner (3.10 cr)!
5/5 BIDU Jun/May 160 call calendar 4.03 deb
  • b/e n/a
  • max pro n/a
  • max loss n/a
  • cost 2.5
  • b/p (405.5)
  • 5/12 rolled May to May4 for 1.45 credit
  • 5/19 rolled May4 to May5 for 1.00 credit
  • 5/28 rolled May5 to Jun1 for .62 credit
  • 6/4   rolled Jun1 to Jun2 for 1.27 credit
  • 6/9   closed Jun 2 for 13.5 debit :(
  • 6/12 closed June for 17.10 winner overall!
5/5 WYNN strangle Jun 240/187 4.75 cr  (2.88 call side/1.87 put side)
  • b/e 182.25/244.75
  • max pro 475
  • max loss infinite
  • cost 2.5
  • b/p (2168.1)
  • 5/14 order to close call side for .50 deb
  • 5/15 sold 217 call for 2.15 cr
  • 5/27 rolled 187/195 for .77 cred
  •         6/10 rolled 217/195 to 220/185 for 1.35 cr
  • 6/24 order to close for 1.73 winner!
5/14 FB JL 62.5/65/55 1.77 cr
  • b/e 53.20/64.30
  • max pro 180
  • max loss 5320
  • cost 3.75
  • b/p    5/23 closed for 1.25 deb
5/16 COST Jun/May4 115 calendar 1.30 deb (3 rolls possible)
  • cost 2.50
  • b/p (131.5)
  • 5/19 rolled May4 to May5 for .68
  • 5/27 rolled May5 to Jun1 for .28
  • 6/5  closed May5 for 2.79 deb loser.
  • 6/12 closed Jun for 1.30 cr (forgot had the long still on)
  •               loser
5/22 CMG IC 530/535/460/455 2.80 cr
  • 5/29 closed call side for 2.95 deb (1.77 cr)
  • 6/16 closed put side for .05 deb Loser :(

Grand total: 14 Winners and 5 losers!

 

SPX IC results:

4/2 SPX IC May 14 1990/2010/1680/1660 1.10 cr
  • b/e 1678.90/1991.10
  • max pro 110
  • max loss 1890
  • cost 5
  • b/p (1895)
  • closed 5/9 for .05 deb Winner!

4/10 SPX IC May4 1970/1995/1650/1630 1.10 

  • b/e 1648.90/1971.10
  • max pro 110
  • max loss 2390
  • cost 5
  • b/p (2395)
  • closed 5/16 for .05 deb Winner!
4/15  SPX IC May 5 1945/1965/1570/1550 1.10
  • b/e 1568.90/1946.1
  • max pro 110
  • max loss 1890
  • cost 5
  • b/p (1895)
  • closed 5/28 for .05 deb Winner!

4/29 SPX IC Jun1 1960/1980/1675/1655 1.10 cr

  • closed 6/5 for .05 deb Winner!

5/9 SPX IC Jun2 1955/1975/1680/1660 1.05 cr (.65 + .40)

  • decided to “manage” this trade to see results
  • original cost 5
  • max pro 105
  • 6/5 closed 1680/1660 for .05 (cost 2.50)
  • 6/5 opened 1870/1850 for .30 cr (cost 2.50)
  • 6/12 closed 1955/1975 for .10 (cost 2.50)
  • profit= call side .55 cr (before costs), put side .65 (before costs)
  • Total profit = 1.20 (.15 more than original credit)
  • Total additional costs = 7.50
  • Not sure it was worth the effort for 7.50 additional profit Winner by small margin

5/22 SPX IC Jun4 1965/1985/1695/1675 1.10 cr (.85 + .25)

  • 2nd trade decided to “manage” to see results
  • max pro 110
  • original cost 5
  • 6/6 closed 1695/1675 for .05 (cost 2.50)
  • 6/6 opened 1820/1800 for .35 (cost 2.50)
  • 6/23 closed 1820/1800 for .05 (cost 2.50)
  • 6/27 closed 1965/1985 for .25 (cost 2.50)
  • profit = call side .60 cr (before costs), put side .50 cr (before costs)
  • Total profit = 1.15 (.05 more than original credit)
  • Total additional costs = 10.00
  • Not worth the rolling  Loser because of costs of rolling

5/29 SPX IC Jul2 1990/2010/1745/1725 1.85 cr (still open)

7/1  SPX IC Aug 2040/2060/1720/1700 1.20 cr (still open)

8 SPX IC trades, 2 still open, 5 winners & 1 loser

 

 

 

April 2014 expiration cycle

So the last time I was here I updated 6 months worth of trades. I had initiated new (to me anyway) strategies. I have decided I will start updating my trades after monthly expiration.

The 1st five trades were on the last update. I wanted to show how they closed out.

2/4 VZ JL Mar 48/49/45 1.10 cr
b/e 43.90
max pro 110
max loss 4390
cost 3.75
b/e (836.65)  3/6 closed for .38 deb winner!

2/11 ONVO naked put Mar 9 .65 cr
b/e 8.35
max prof 130
max loss 1670
cost 2.50
b/e (1672.50)  3/21 closed for break-even (technically a loser because of commissions)

2/11 P j.l. Mar 39/40/32 1.29
b/e 30.72
max pro 128
max loss 3072
cost 3.75
b/e (3175.75)  3/12 closed for .40 debit winner!

2/28 KMI Apr 32.5 put 1.35 deb (2 contracts) playing to downside
b/e 31.15
max pro $3115
max loss $135
cost 1.25
b/e (136.25)  3/14 closed for .05 loss

2/28 CMCSA Apr 50/52.5 1.34 deb (2 contracts)
b/e 51.34
max prof 232
max loss 268
cost 5
b/e (273)  3/19 closed for .66 cr loss

3/4 TWTR Apr 60/65/45 JL 1.47 cr
b/e 43.55/61.45
max pro 150
max loss 4355
cost 3.75

b/e (1089.55) 3/21 closed for .90 deb winner!

3/10 YHOO Apr 41/42/36 JL 1.08
b/e 34.92
max pro 108
max loss 3492
cost 3.75

b/e (605.37)   4/7 loser 2.94 debit.

3/12 SBUX 75/77.50 1.08 deb
b/e 76.08
max pro 142
max loss 108
cost 2.50
b/e (110.50)
4/9 rolled Apr 77.50 to May 77.50 for .55 credit

                Apr 75 losing side Max Loss at expiry

3/14 CMG Apr 540/535 1.25 cr
b/e 538.75
max pro 125
max loss 375
cost 2.5

b/e (377.50)  4/15 closed for 2.50 deb loser :(

3/17 EA  Apr 29/30 .58 deb (2 contracts)
b/e 29.58
max pro 84
max loss 116
cost 5.00

b/p effect (121) 4/17 max loss on expiry

3/18 GMCR Apr 115/120 2.20 deb
b/e 117.20
max pro 285
max loss 215
cost 2.5
b/p (217.50)
4/9 rolled Apr 120 to May 120 for 2.26 cr

                Apr 115 losing side Max Loss at expiry

So this leaves me with 6 losers, 3 winners, and 2 rolled winning sides. I don’t usually split up trades or roll to manage, but decided to give it a shot this month instead of taking max loss.  Wanted to mitigate the losses.  You win some, you lose some. Not happy with losses but they are small and defined. I can live with that.

The following trades are my Iron Condors on the SPX and my results.

1/11 Mar2 14 1890/1910/1675/1655 (31 days)
credit 1.60
b/e 1673.40/1891.55
max pro 15
max loss 1845
cost 5

b/e (1850)   expired worthless!

Mar 1905/19251705/1685 (34 days)
credit 2.10

b/e 1702.90/1907.10  expired worthless!

3/3 SPX IC Apr 1950/1970/1570/1550 1.20 cr
b/e 1568.80/1951.20
max pro 120
max loss 1880
cost 5.00

b/p (1885.00)  4/4 closed for .15 debit winner!

3/10 SPX IC Apr4 1965/1985/1620/1600 1.15 cr
b/e 1618.85/1966.15
max pro 115
max loss 1885
cost 5  

b/p (1890)  3/31 closed for .35 deb winner!

3/17 SPX IC May1 1970/1990/1600/1580 1.15 cr
b/e 1598.85/1971.15
max pro 115
max loss 1885
cost 5

b/p (1890)  4/9 closed for .20 deb winner!

3/24 SPX IC May2 1950/1970/1585/1575 1.10
b/e 1583.90/1951.40
max pro 1410
max loss 1890
cost 5

b/p (1895)  closed 4/16 for .30 deb winner!

4/2 SPX IC May 14 1990/2010/1680/1660 1.10 (still open)
b/e 1678.90/1991.10
max pro 110
max loss 1890
cost 5

b/p (1895)

4/9 SPX IC May4 1970/1995/1650/1630 1.10 (still open)
b/e 1648.90/1971.10
max pro 110
max loss 2390
cost 5

b/p (2395)

4/14 SPX IC May 5 1945/1965/1570/1550 1.10 (still open)
b/e 1568.90/1946.1
max pro 110
max loss 1890
cost 5

b/p (1895)

My rules for IC trades:
~ enter weekly at about 45 days out, give or take
~ 95% probability of OTM
~ 20 wide on both sides
~ don’t manage

~ let expire worthless

** These are fluid and subject to change at my whim. These rules are intended for informational purposes only and NOT intended for public consumption.

Honing my trading skills


Disclaimer: These are my trades used for illustration purposes only. I don’t advocate anyone attempt to trade my “style” as I am not sure I even have a “style” realistically.

Okay, so The Man redeployed in June and I decided to buckle down and treat my trading “career” as the business I want/need it to be. I started following Liz & Jenny and then Tom & Tony over at Tastytrade.

I have been successful at my trading, overall, with the signals that I have honed over the years. I was still way too emotional though when putting on trades. I wasn’t trading defined risk trades. I was trading directionally, up or down, but when the trade went against me I survived on hopium.

I have a whole new perspective and way of trading. I focus on defined risk option trades with high volatility, usually. The “usually” is for the high volatility aspect. Not everything I trade is high vol and according to Tastytrade “rules.” I have learned not to be a lemming in my trading any longer. I have to do what is comfortable for me.

So I trade what I see. And I trade small and often.

I am cutting and pasting directly from my “notes” pad on my Mac. I am not a fancy analyzer. This works for me.

Here is how things have played out for me over the last 6 months: (39 closed winning trades and 5 closed losing trades)

8/13
ABX Sep 17/16 put vert (4 contracts) .26 credit
b/e stock price $16.74
max prof $104
max loss $296
comm $10
b/p effect ($306)

8/26 bought it back for .05 debit….success!

8/26 ABX Sep 20/19 put vert (2 contract) .41 credit
b/e stock price $19.59
max profit $82
max loss $118
comm $5
b/p effect $123
25% profit target = .30

9/19 ABX Sep 20/19 put vert bought back for .39 (technically .02 winner but paid commissions)

8/26 ITMN Sep 15/14 put vert (2 contract) .40 credit
b/e stock price $14.60
max profit $80.00
max loss $120.00
b/p effect $125
25% profit target = .30

9/16 ITMN 15/14 put vert closed at .29! target reached!

8/29 VZ Oct weekly Jade Lizard sell 50/51 call spread & 47 put 1.00 credit
b/e stock price 46.00/51.00
max profit $100
max loss $4600
credit 96.25 (comm 3.75)
bp effect 882.05 9/16 closed for .14 debit

9/6 MU Oct 15/14 put vert (2 contracts) .41 credit
b/e stock price $14.59
max profit $82
max loss $118
b/p effect $200
25% profit target = .31

9/16 MU Oct 15/14 put vert closed at .22 debit! sweet!

9/11 MO Oct 35/36 call vert (2 contracts) .37 debit (want stock to move up)
b/e 35.36
max profit $448
max loss $252
cost $252
bp effect $77
25% profit target = .47

9/17 MO Oct 35/36 call vert hit target of .47 -closed!

9/11 JCP Sep 15/13 put vert (2 contracte) 1.12 debit (want stock to move down)
b/e $14.03 13.88
max profit $206 $176
max loss $194 $224
debit $199 ($5.00 comm) $229 ($5 comm)
BP effect ($199)
25% profit target = $1.40 (stop in for $1.45)
9/20 reached target $1.45! woohoo!

9/17 MU Oct 16/14 put vert (3 contracts) .55 credit 10/7 closed for .13 debit

10/10 IYR Nov 66/67/62 (1 contract) Jade Lizard 1.11 credit
b/e stock price 60.89
max profit $111.00
max loss $6,089
cost $3.75
b/p effect $1133.65
25% profit target = .83
50% profit target = .56 bought back at .46 debit…score!

10/10 FB Nov 40 (1 contract) Naked put 1.03 credit
b/e stock price
max profit
max loss
cost
b/p effect $4,000
25% profit target = .77
50% profit target = .51 Closed 10/16 .50 Target Hit!

10/10 LEN Nov 36/37/31 (1 contract) Jade Lizard 1.00 credit
b/e stock price $30.06/36.94
max profit = $94
max loss = $3,006
cost of trade = $3.75
b/p effect = $3,109.75
25% profit target = .70
50% profit target = .47 closed 10/31 .39 Target hit! woohoo!

10/13 TSL Nov 19/20/15 (2 cont.) Jade Lizard 1.13
b/e stock price $13.87
max profit $226
max loss $2774.00
cost of trade $7.50 x2
b/p effect ($2891.50)
25% target = .85
50% target = .56 11/5 closed trade for .44. woohoo!

10/13 XLY Nov 62/64/59/57 Iron Condor .79 credit
b/e $58.21/62.79
max profit $158
max loss $242
cost of trade $10 x2 ***** expensive
b/p effect ($252)
25% target = .59 made $20 and paid $20 in comm.
50% target = .40 made $39 and paid $20 in comm.
11/12 closed 62/64 for 1.12 losing side

10/17 ITMN Nov 16/17/14 JL .90 credit
b/e = 13.10/16.90
max profit = $90 10/22 closed 14 put for 1.09
max loss = $1,310 10/31 closed 16 call for .11
cost of trade = $3.75 x2 10/31 17 call no value
b/p effect = ($241.35)
25% target = .67 made $23 and paid 7.50 in comm.
50% target = .45 made $45 and paid 7.50 in comm.

10/31 FB Dec 50/52.50 call spread .99 debit
b/e = $50.99
max profit = $755
max loss = $495
cost of trade = $12.50
b/p effect ($507.50)
25% target = $1.25
50% target = $1.50 11/20 closed for .46 credit

11/12 TSLA Dec 135/140 call spread 2.41 credit
25% target = $1.81
50% target = $1.20
11/22 closed for profit woohoo .90 debit

11/14 GOOG DEC 1000/995 put spread
closed 11/29 for .25 debit…profit!

11/21 GDX Dec 21 put .42 (long put)
12/5 Closed for profit .93!!! woohoo!

11/21 FDX Dec145/150/135/130 IC 2.23
b/e 132.77/147.23
max pr $223
max loss $277
cost $5
b/p effect (282) closing 12/17 for 1.62 profit woohoo!

11/27 AAPL Dec4 525/520 put spread 1.15 credit
b/e 523.85
max profit 115
max loss 385
cost 2.50
b/p effect 387.50 12/17 closed for profit .23 debit woohoo!!

12/4 CLF Jan 26/27 call spread .37 deb (3 contracts)
wanted stock to increase in value (needed it to stay between 26/27)
b/e 26.37
max profit 189
max loss 111
cost 7.50
b/p effect (118.50) 12/31 closed for .37 loser b/c of comms

12/10 TSLA IC Jan 155/160/125/120 2.35 cr
b/e 122.65/157.35
max profit 235
max loss 265
cost 5
b/e 270 1/7 closed for profit 1.20 debit woohoo!

12/10 GOOG put vert Jan 1040/1035 1.25 cr
12/31 closed for profit .15 debit woohoo!

12/12 NEM Jan 24 put for 1.75
1/7 closed for loss @ .63

12/17 DDD synthetic Jan 15 (leap) 65p/65c 14.20 deb Still open

12/20 MYL put spread 42/41 .31 cr
b/e 41.69
max pro 31.00
max loss 69.00
cost 2.50
b/p 71.50 1/7 closed for .16

12/20 PEP put spread 80/75 .50
b/e 79.50
max pro 50
max loss 450
cost 2.50
b/p (452.50) 12/31 closed for profit .15 debit woohoo!!

12/27 TWTR call spread 80/85 .87
wanted stock to decrease in value
b/e 80.87
max pro 87
max loss 413
cost 2.5
b/p (415.50) 12/31 closed for profit .40 debit woohoo!

1/3/2014 AAPL call spread Feb 565/570
want stock to go down
b/e 566.67
max prof 167.00
max loss 333.00
cost 2.50
b/p (335.50) 1/28 closed trade for .15….profit!

1/3 FB JL Feb 60/65/48 2.50 cr
b/e 45.50/62.50
max prof 250.00
max loss 4550.00
cost 3.75
b/p (688.05) 1/21 closed for profit $1.40 deb

1/3 P JL Feb 32/33/24 1.20 cr
b/e 22.80
max profit 120.00
max loss 2280.00
cost 3.75
b/p (2383.75) 1/21 closed for profit .83 deb

1/7 GOOG put vert Feb 1075/1070 1.35 cr
b/e 1073.65
max profit 135.00
max loss 365.00
cost 2.50
b/p 367.50 closed 1/23 for .85 debit

1/7 TEVA Feb 40/37.5 put .71 cr
b/e 39.29
max profit 71.00
max loss 179.00
cost 2.50
b/p 181.50 closed 1/15 for profit .27 deb woohoo!

1/15 UNG Feb 20/19 put spread .28 cr
b/e 19.72
max profit 28 (84)
max loss 72 (216)
cost 2.50 x 3
b/p (223.5) (3 contracts) 1/23 profit .12 deb woohoo!

1/16 TSLA Feb 185/190/140 Jade Lizard 4.26 cr
b/e 135.74/189.26
max prof 426
max loss 13574
cost 3.75
b/p (1781.25) 1/27 closed for profit $3.20 deb

1/17 TWTR Feb 70/75/55 JL 4.30 cr
b/e 50.70/74.30
max prof 430
max loss 5070
cost 3.75
b/p (5573.75) 2/5 closed for profit @ 3.12 deb

1/23 COST FEB 115/110 bear put 2.50 deb
b/e 112.50
maxpro 250
max loss 250
cost 2.50
b/p (252.50) success! 2/4 3.35 credit to close!

1/23 WFM Feb4 53/52 bear put .60 deb
b/e 52.40
maxpro 40
max loss 60
cost 2.50
b/p 62.50 1/10 closed for loss .34 cr

1/24 UNG Feb 29/22 call/put strangle 1.50 cr
b/e 20.50/30.50
max profit 150
max loss infinite
cost 2.50
b/p 248.80 1/6/14 closed for profit .73 cr

1/28 GT Mar 23/22 put spread .35 (2 contracts)
b/e 22.65
max profit 70
max loss 130
cost 5
b/p (135) closed for .05 2/20/14

1/29 SPX IC Feb4 (30 days out) 1880/1900/1635/1625 cr 1.10
b/e 1633.90/1881.10
max pro 110
max loss 1890
cost 5
b/p (1855) expired worthless :)

1/30 MU Mar 22/23 bull call .60 deb
b/e 22.60
max pro 40
max loss 60
cost 2.5
b/p(62.50) 2/18 closed for .85 cr…made 40% or .25

1/30 XLV Mar 56/57 bull call .55 deb
b/e 56.55
max pro 45
max loss 55
cost 2.5
b/e (57.50) 2/21 closed for .88 cr

1/30 TSLA Mar 240/245/130 JL 1.95 cr
b/e 128.05/241.95
max pro 195
max loss 12805
cost 3.75
b/e (1761.25) 2/18 closed for 1.33 31% profit

1/30 WYNN Feb 180 naked put 1.40
b/e 178.60
max pro 140
max loss 17860
cost 1.25
b/e 1930.05 1/7 closed for profit @ .19 deb

1/31 AA Mar 11 naked put .37
b/e 10.63
max pro 37
max loss 1063
cost 2.50
b/e (333.22) 2/21 closed for .14

2/4 HIMX 16/17/13 JL 1.10 cr Still open
b/e 11.90
max pro 110
max loss 1190
cost 3.75
b/e (947.05)

2/4 VZ JL Mar 48/49/45 1.10 cr Still open
b/e 43.90
max pro 110
max loss 4390
cost 3.75
b/e (836.65)

2/10 AAPL Mar 505/500 put vert 1.35 (2 cont)
b/e 503.68
max prof 528
max loss 1472
cost 5
b/e 741 2/25 closed .85 made a profit

2/11 ONVO naked put Mar 9 .65 cr Still open
b/e 8.35
max prof 130
max loss 1670
cost 2.50
b/e (1672.50)

2/11 P j.l. Mar 39/40/32 1.29 Still open
b/e 30.72
max pro 128
max loss 3072
cost 3.75
b/e (3175.75)

2/28 KMI Apr 32.5 put 1.35 deb (2 contracts) playing to downside
b/e 31.15
max pro $3115
max loss $135
cost 1.25
b/e (136.25)

2/28 CMCSA Apr 50/52.5 1.34 deb (2 contracts)
b/e 51.34
max prof 232
max loss 268
cost 5
b/e (273)

PS showed this to my husband, God love him, and he said, “This means nothing to me. Will a trader understand this?” I sure hope so :)

The Madness and My Marriage

The Madness

6 months ago I willingly brought The Madness into my family.

I promised The Man that I wouldn’t adopt another animal while he was deployed.

Clearly I can’t be trusted.

Does it count that I had good intentions??

Just a month earlier, I said good-bye to the best battle buddy a girl could ever hope to have. He was a true and loyal friend. My heart still hurts when I think of him.

He was perfect. Okay, as perfect as any puppy can be.

We found him at the local SPCA. He was a black ball of fur at 10 weeks old. We named him after The Grim in the 3rd Harry Potter book.

The Man loved this dog. He took him in his truck all over the place. He let him sleep on the bed (I am a no-furniture pet owner). He ran with him. Grim barked whenever anyone was within 5 feet of the house.

We worked well together as a family, after dog obedience class of course. None of this is possible unless you spend the time necessary to train a dog. In other words, no dog is born perfect.

Grim

So, it was not an easy decision to let Grim cross to the Rainbow Bridge on my time. Truth be told, it was the hardest thing I have ever done for many reasons. One of them was that The Man was deployed and wouldn’t get to say good-bye in person.

But Grim’s time had come.

I had already decided that I wasn’t going to be without a big dog in my house for long. I sleep better. Don’t get me wrong, we love the Diva, but a scary dog she is not.

I had thought I could adopt a retired military working dog someday, but after saying good-bye to 2 senior dogs in 1 year I decided that I am not that strong. Plus, The Man was a little more concerned about the littles and safety.

The Friday after I said good-bye to Grim I filled out an application for a German Shepherd rescue. The website informed me that the process could take a while so I felt comfortable. I wasn’t in a big hurry.

Remember, I promised The Man I wouldn’t bring a 2nd new dog into the house before he re-deployed.

About a month later, while The Man was home on R&R, I received an email asking for a home visit from the rescue organization. Sure, no problem. We straightened up and put on our best faces.

I honestly didn’t expect to hear from the rescue organization again for a while, but I received another email shortly thereafter informing me that they had a couple of dogs ready for adoption and could we meet on the upcoming Saturday at 1 pm.

Well, that settles it, we are not destined to adopt right now, I thought, because that is the day The Man heads back to Afghanistan and there is no way we have time. I emailed the woman back that it wouldn’t work because of the time and the situation.

She emailed me again telling me she could arrange an earlier meet and greet.

I didn’t mention it for a day or 2 and when I did I asked The Man what he thought. He said sure, let’s go look.

Have you ever just “looked” or “met” a dog and NOT wanted to take it home? Remember what happened when we MET the Diva?

Needless to say, we met Max (formerly Winston, yeah NOT a fan of that name) and decided he would be perfect. He was under 2, very energetic, and was a bit rough around the edges, but I felt up to the challenge.

The Man agreed. We paid our fee and decided we would pick him up the next day.

Fast forward a couple of months and The Man has re-deployed home. Prior to his return he had been “meeting” Max over FaceTime and decided that Max wasn’t anywhere near his standard, behavior-wise. My stress level started to ratchet up even before he got off the plane.

It has been a rough go since he has been home. Max is a 70 lb. puppy. Everytime you put your hand down he thinks it is fair game to mouth it. He slaps you with a paw and it is no joke. The Man is not enamored.

In all fairness, reintegration is HARD. Not only do we all have to figure out how to live with each other again, The Man entered a home with 2 new dogs and didn’t get a chance to say good-bye to his best friend. Emotions were running high.

I worked really hard with Max for about 2 months to train him to walk reasonably on a leash, come when called, etc. He is incredibly smart and a fast learner, but he is a puppy. Everyone once in a while he loses his mind (like the time in Maryland when he ran off after a rabbit or when he chased deer for that matter). There is no “relax” button on Max. He can walk for 5 miles, seem exhausted, but come home and chase a ball.

He harasses the other dogs in the house when he wants to play, hence The Madness moniker.

Max has been a battle ground for sure. I seriously considered giving him up because the ugliness wasn’t worth it to me. We have finally seemed to find a balance and peace since my surgery.

The Man and The Madness have bonded over daily walks. It’s not a perfect relationship, but it is coming along and that is all I can hope for at this point.

 

After Hiatus

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Yeah, I know, it’s been MONTHS since I have posted. I didn’t think you would miss me.

And yes, a lot has been going on. We are still re-integrating as a family. It is a long process. Some people think all is better when The Man walks in the door after being gone for a year. Not so much. The fun is just beginning (more on that when I feel like airing more dirty laundry hehehehe).

We have traveled A LOT this summer. Our first stop was to head to VA to pick up our latest family member. We are fostering our good friends’ Westie while they traipse around Europe for a few years.

Then The Man had to head to Kansas for some training for his PhD program. We normally love where we stay outside of the area, but not so much this year. It rained like crazy, we had 3 different dogs, and the internet and cell service were practically non-existent.  U-G-H!

Our next stop was on to Iowa to visit good friends of ours. This was truly the highlight of our trip for all of us. The littles were missing their friends and it was great to get them all together again. Our friends, John and Becky, are so laid back it made for a truly relaxing week. We ate, drank, did some shooting, camped out, and even got a little pampered.

Toes

 The Man and I had time alone too. All in all it was a lot of fun.

After Iowa, we trekked to Sky Ranch Family Camp in the Rockies for Military Appreciation Week. This is a Christian-based camp that offers a free week of camp to military members and their families. Yes, it truly is free.  You just need to get there. It was such a good time. It was a tad disconcerting when we first showed up because they really, really make you feel at home. They take your bags, show you your cabin, and spirit your kids away to play. If you are not accustomed to being cared for in that fashion, like we aren’t, then it can be a bit overwhelming. We did adjust fairly quickly, though, and a great time was had by all. Here are a few of the free activites we participated in: horse-back riding, white water rafting, tubing, shooting, and fly-fishing. There was a zip-lining/ropes course we didn’t get to do because of weather, but maybe some other time.

No sooner did we get home, we had a death on my side of the family. Another Ugh! I flew home for a fast weekend to pay my respects. I was picked up at the airport on my return by The Man and the littles to head back to VA. The Man had research at The National Archives and the littles and I had sight-seeing/field trips to partake in. We visited with a few friends and my in-laws came down for a weekend.

The bummer of the trip was/is the RV repairs. We were 6 miles into our return trip and had to pull off on to the shoulder of the road. After some calls to AAA and the towing company, we decided we could limp back to the RV park. We got a repair done on the brakes and were on the road 2 days later to only have the same “sound” again. We went back to be told it was “such-n-such” and should correct itself. Hmmmmm….I wasn’t so sure, but alright. What do I know?  Sure enough, 50 miles from our next destination things are ugly. Thankfully we are all safe, but the RV had to stay behind in VA to get a new transmission while we headed home. Shoulder surgery was on my horizon.

And here I sit, 2 weeks after surgery. It has been a slog of a recovery that is for sure. I had to have my bicep muscle re-attached. I injured it before The Man’s deployment, but was told I could live with limited range of motion or have surgery on my time. Needless to say, I had to wait 18 months until I had help at home. I am so glad I did wait. This is kicking my butt. I honestly thought people were exaggerating when they said this is a hard recovery because I have lived through 4 c-sections. How hard can this be in comparison?? Yeah, that hard.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, off to college we will go

RoadI’ve been reading a lot of status updates on FB lately about kids heading off to college. It made me a little nostalgic.

6 years ago I took my teenage daughter to college for the first time. No one told me how I would grieve when she was gone.

Then again in all fairness, I couldn’t wait for her to leave so I wouldn’t have believed them.

Her senior year was rough. Actually, her high school years were rough.

She graduated on a Friday evening and I had a plane ticket with her name on it for Saturday morning. She was heading from El Paso, TX to Connecticut to say with her biological father for the summer. The plan was that he would take her to college.

That plan quickly went awry, as most of those plans do. I booked a plane trip for the 3 littles (the youngest was 5 months old) and me and off we went to save the day. The Man even flew in for the weekend.

I rented a minivan, loaded it up and drove to Oswego, NY from Branford, CT.  My mother and step-father followed, just for good measure.

When we arrived, we discovered that the oldest was a day early. She would be one of the only ones on her floor.

Humph. Now what? My husband had a plane to catch the next day and we couldn’t stay overnight.

The decision was made that she would be fine and we were to leave.

She was ready for us to leave. There were 4 adults and 3 littles plus her in her dorm room. And 3 of the adults had lots of opinions on how to set this up or move that around, etc. I am sure you can picture it.

We all piled back in our cars and headed out. She had a cell phone. She could call if she needed to chat, I reasoned.

I can’t tell you how hard it was to pull away. My heart was breaking. The Man asked if I was okay. I waved his question off because I couldn’t speak. I was bereft.

I had raised my oldest to do just what she was doing, go to college, but it was painful to say good-bye.  I wish I had known how hard it would be. I was sad beyond measure.

I wasn’t so sad after we sad good-bye over Thanksgiving though. 5 days reminded me why it was time for her to fly the coop.

Have you sent your kids off to college yet? How did it go?

Overdrafting my checking account

“I went to take money out of the ATM and it said we didn’t have any in the checking account.”

What??!!  How is that possible? Did you go online and check too? There has to be an error!

 

This is the conversation The Man and I just had last week.

I pull up our online banking information and sure enough and we are in the red. How is this possible??!!

It’s possible because I am an idiot. I miscalculated how much was available and how much I could pay towards the bills before the 15th. I was getting ahead of myself.

I still use an old-fashioned check register to track every transaction. Yeah, I know I can use an online system like Mint, but truthfully this has been working just fine for our 19 years of married life.

Until today.

I am truly embarrassed that I overdrafted.  The bank covered an automatic payment but charged me $25 for a check. Ugh!

I called to find out about the overdraft protection I have on the account. I have never needed to use it before so I was unaware of the regulations. The bank I use doesn’t charge for the first overdraft in a year, but it does for each subsequent.

This is such an anomaly for me that I got an instant headache and felt sick.

The Man said he did wonder if we somehow had been hacked and all of our money was stolen.

I remember not being able to pay my bills “back in the day” just because I had more month than money. Not the case this time.  Human error. Ugh!

I know in the grand scheme of things this isn’t that big of a deal. I had overdraft protection and money in savings to transfer over to rectify the situation, but I pride myself on NOT jackin’ up the checkbook.

C’est la vie. I guess I am human afterall. Don’t tell anyone.

Color-blindness and complacency

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Like the rest of America I was surprised by the Zimmerman verdict last Saturday. I was not shocked however. To me the verdict had to turn out this way because our justice system is a game of semantics, even when a young man has died. I don’t have a lot of faith in our justice system all the time, but that is a commentary for another post.

I am not going to debate the race card, but I will tell you I went through a myriad of different emotions regarding race since Saturday night.

I am a white American. My heritage includes Italian and Irish ancestry. There may be others, but quite frankly I don’t care. I am an American first and foremost.

You conjured up a picture of what I look like just by the my ancestry, didn’t you? Maybe you even snuck a look at my picture just to verify the “facts” I presented. It happens. We can’t help it.

In America, we work in stereotypes, good, bad, or indifferent.

I can’t help that I am white anymore than a black person can help their skin color.

I can, however, help how I treat others. That brings me to my point.

I have wronged people of color. Not in the Paula Deen sense, but in my complacency.

I am color-blind and assume others are too. I teach my children that skin color doesn’t matter.

We live in the deep South which is rich in civil rights history and I educate them on the atrocities of our American heritage. They are justifiably horrified.  They know it is never right to treat any human being in that fashion EVER.

Clearly not everyone is color-blind. Color, and the subsequent racism because of color, affects people of color EVERYDAY. I have been ignorant of that fact.

Let me say, for the record…I am sorry. I am truly and deeply sorry for not acknowledging that.

Once upon a time in a land far away from where the white girl (now woman) currently lives there was a meeting of 2 young girls. One was white and one was black.

“Hi! My name’s Melissa!” said the black girl with her pony tails and bright smile.

“Hi! I’m Jennifer!” replied the white girl.

The beginnings of a beautiful friendship ensued. Unbeknownst to the white girl, though, the black girl had struggles. Her family struggled with the friendship. Her school friends struggled, too.

They persevered in their friendship though.

Years later, the white girl named her first born after her best friend. The black girl was the white girl’s maid of honor.

As they became adults the struggles started to take their toll on the black girl. She lashed out at the ignorance of the white girl who adored her. She was convinced that the white girl was prejudice in some fashion. What she didn’t understand was that the white girl didn’t know how to be anything but white. She could sympathize and be there for the black girl, but there was no way to bridge the gap.

The final straw to their friendship was the first election cycle of Barack Obama. There was no way the white girl could be anything but a racist if she didn’t vote for Mr. Obama. There was no way the black girl could see this was not a race issue for the white girl.

The black girl called and railed against something the white girl posted on Facebook. The friendship ended. It had been limping along for years at this point and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The white girl was “unfriended.” She was devastated. This had been their 3rd argument as adults about race. This seemed so final. The white girl wanted to understand, but it is hard to truly “get it” without being that person.

It has been years since the white girl has heard from the black girl and the pain is still raw. She is crying as she types this because she misses her friend so much.

I am not a racist and never have been. I have just been blinded to color. As I wrote in a comment on a friend’s blog: “It is easy to be color blind when you are the color of the favorite Barbie doll.” Shame on me.

What I did last summer

This post was written for a Blog Hop on Generation Fabulous. Click the link below to see more Transformation Travel blogs or to share yours.

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IMAG0776Last summer I embarked, with the littles, of course, on a 3,000 mile trek across the country. Now most of you may think this is no big deal, but it was a HUGE deal to me. See, I loaded up our 35 ft. motorhome, packed the littles and the dog into it, attached the car which was weighed down with bikes, and away we went.

I was terrified. Seriously terrified.

I had driven the motorhome many times before, but I always had back-up in the form of a 6 ft. tall good-looking soldier.  I had never been responsible for EVERYTHING, meaning all the “man” things he did. I handled the set-up and break-down of the inside.

So what was I afraid of?

  • I was afraid I wouldn’t hook the car up correctly and it would go careening off before we even left the neighborhood. I was obsessed with watching the car in the backup camera.
  • I was afraid I would forget to do something vitally important when we were setting up or breaking down at a campsite.
  • I was afraid I would go under a bridge that wasn’t the right height.
  • I was nervous about our safety at campgrounds without a man around.

I know I really screwed up though when I had to make sure the then 9 y.o. little went to counseling when we got home. She and the then 7 y.o. were amazing at handling the inside set up and break down. I think a little too amazing. She became neurotic.

You might be wondering why we decided to do this trip. Well The Man was planning a year long vacation in the desert and all of our friends had just moved. We decided we would visit a couple of those friends to ease into this deployment. The prep kept the littles and their mother occupied.

So there we were, all ready to go finally. I banned any talking until I managed to make it to the highway and set the cruise control.

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Our first stop was at a campground in Lake Charles, LA for the night. I didn’t need to worry about unhooking the car because we weren’t heading out anywhere. I did have to plug in the electric though so I could run the a/c. Our motorhome has a refrigerator and pantry so I am sure I just whipped something up for dinner. I probably fed and walked the dog and then collapsed on the couch with a beer.

The next morning we headed off to our first destination….San Antonio, TX. This part was a little more stressful because the resort we stayed at had smaller “spots.” Unhooking the car for the first time was a challenge and I was doing it “illegally.” I missed the sign that asked all campers to hook and unhook before heading to our spot. Oops.

We settled into this resort for a few days and all was well. I wasn’t too nervous there because it was a family friendly place. There were lots of moms. I get apprehensive when we show up a campground that has more men than women and children.  The door on the motorhome isn’t like a house door and my dog was 12 and deaf. Plus, not every state we traveled through is recriprocal with AL’s weapons permit and I certainly didn’t want to have a felony on my record even if I was defending myself.

The best part of the trip was the journey to our next stop in OK. My battle buddy was heading north to Nebraska so we caravanned. It was nice to know someone was with us. We spent the night at a fun resort and let the kids swim and eat pizza. The next morning we trekked off to Kansas where we parted ways. The littles and I spent a couple of nights in Platte City, MO while we visited friends at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

We had 1 more family to visit and they were in Iowa.  Off we went. The campground we stayed at was the most primitive. There was a water hook-up, sewer hook-up, and electric hook-up but that was it. There was no pool to entertain the littles with. It was pitch-black at night. The littles spent a couple of nights with their friends and I had to navigate from my car to the door of the motorhome alone, worrying if there were critters, big or small, lurking. I learned to carry a flashlight after that.

In spite of my nervousness, fun was being had by all. The kids were enjoying the heck out of the trek and visiting with friends. I was gaining confidence with each overnight stay, gas fill-up, and highway adventure. We had gotten things down to a science. The countryside was beautiful, even if all we saw was corn LOL

When all was said and done, we logged about 2,800 miles. There were no catastrophes (unless you count the 18 wheeler that clipped my side mirror) and we returned to our humble abode 2 weeks after we started all in one piece.  I am not sure I would do it again alone, but at least I can say I did it.

 

 

Battle Buddies

Battle Buddies….those words conjure up different thoughts for different segments of the population. For military spouses it means the friend who held your hand through a deployment. I don’t mean literal hand-holding. I am referring to the chick who answers the phone and just listens as you rant and rave about the latest drama in your life.

I don’t think a military spouse could survive a deployment without one, I know I couldn’t.

I use to think a battle buddy was someone that was living through the same experience with you and near you.  Not any longer.

LogoOne of my battle buddies was 14 hours away by car. But she was only a phone call, email, or iMessage away.

The miles were irrelevant because we saw each other 3 times in 7 months. Before this month is up we will have visited 4 times in 12 months.

I know I would never have survived without her support.

  • My battle buddy traversed part of the country with us when we took our summer trek last year.
  • She packed up her kids and their schoolwork to visit after the Kickboxer broke her leg.
  • She took my littles shopping for my upcoming birthday while she was here.
  • We trick-or-treated with her and her kids.
  • We panicked together when we found the bag of chocolates from Halloween devoured by the newest dog in our family.
  • I dropped my littles off to her in January so I could fly to the Netherlands to spend time with The Man.
  • She has listened to me sob when I said good-bye to my dog.
  • Most of all she was “there” and just listened.

The other battle buddies I had were online. I really connected with some “friends” on Facebook who were only acquaintances before.

I am so appreciative of the amazing women who are in my crazy life.

Tell me about your battle buddy experience. Why was she so special?