Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Disappointed

I thought I would feel like a million bucks if the day came where Obama was elected President. From the start it seemed impossible. His name, skin color and opponents were formidable foes. Yet, somehow, he overcame the odds to win the election with a wide lead in electoral votes and popular vote.

I cried when the announcement came and said to my 12 year old son, "Watch close because this is history" and pumped my fist in celebration when Obama gave his acceptance speech. My son, who deals with his own issues being of mixed race, stared and smiled and had hope for the future. I went to bed with a smile on my face that I thought would take days to erase.

But the next morning would shed light on how far we really haven't come. It started on the usual networking sites. "They are disappointed but know God will show them the way. They want to know why no one (but Fox, go figure) is reporting he is a Muslim." The list goes on and on and as the day progressed, the more disheartened I became. I saw friends rip each other apart in ways they never had during the election. My local newspaper hosts comments on their articles and several nasty comments were made about not being able to call it the "White" House anymore. And then the news started trickling out about the same-sex marriage bans failing to be overturned in at least 4 states and one state now mandating that LGBT couples not be allowed to be able to foster children in their homes.

As my spirit went lower all I could think about was the voters who answered the call for change. We worked so hard during the last several months to spread the word that change was the only way. It was time to rid our government of that good ol' boy mentality and finally get to work. Volunteers dedicated hours of their time to knocking on doors and making phone calls to undecided voters. People never involved in politics in any way dontated their hard earned dollars and struck up dialogues about why we were voting for Obama. All of that work paid off in the end. Right?

The truth is that we are right where we were a week ago. We still have a majority of the population that believes they can decide who has rights and who doesn't. Crazy me for thinking that is what the constitution is for but apparently you are not covered under it unless the people say so. Why are constitutional bans on human rights even on ballots? Shouldn't that be up to the Supreme Court? I don't know about you but I didn't study law in college and I'm pretty sure the majority of the other voters didn't either so I hardly think it is up to us whether to amend the constitution or not.

Change was in the air and I truly believed it was going to happen. I have never been more sad to have been wrong. I thought Americans were finally going to stand up not just for themselves but others who have been ignored for far too long. It is so disappointing to see how far we can go only to take a huge leap back. This is not progress. This is not change.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Imagine if you will.....

I am overwhelmed at the moment with schoolwork and trying to find a job but read an e-mail recently that has me thinking even harder about the upcoming election. Obama has been my pick since the beginning and I am so happy to see how far he has come but I am still afraid. Afraid this election will come too close and have it stolen from us. Again. Afraid of what a McCain/Palin administration will do to us as a society and how much more it will take away. Steps that have taken our conservative society decades to make will be undone in a flash. So if you are still undecided or unsure, here are some things to think about.

Imagine if you will.....

...what it would feel like to have your child ripped from your arms by the government because you did not give birth to this child and the government does not recognize your rights to raise this child if something happens to your same-sex partner. Or what it would feel like to be turned away because you are not considered family and not allowed to see your partner in the hospital.

...how it would feel to have people come into your house and determine what you can keep or what you will have to give up of your belongings. This is because the government does not recognize same-sex relationships the way they do a marriage between a man and woman so if your same-sex partner dies without a will, their family has the right to come in and take things believed to be their belongings.

...being raped and then finding out you are pregant or told your baby will be born with severe birth defects or told your own life is at stake due to a high-risk pregnancy and then being able to do nothing about ending the pregnancy.

...hearing someone campaigning for the highest office in our country say that though they don't believe you have rights, they will tolerate you. What confidence would you have in their being your leader?

...entering the military to fight for your country but having to hide who you are and making the ultimate sacrifice only to have your partner denied any benefits after your death including receiving the flag your casket was draped in?

Whether you are affected by these issues or not, how can you stand in judgement of someone whose life does? What makes you the decider of how others live their lives? Even if you don't agree with these issues it is not your right to take them away from someone else.

Over 400 years ago the English settlers came here to escape religious persecution. They understood that it was unfair to be forced to practice a religion they did not believe in and made sure to write the Constitution to ensure the separation of religion and state. Yet here we sit all these decades later still waiting for that to be true. I don't advocate taking away your right to freedom of religion and I should be given the same right to live my life as I chose and not how your religion says I should.

All it takes is for a voice to speak up at the right time. Now is the right time. Please, please, please get out and vote on November 4th and consider which candidate wants to bring us together regardless of our skin color, religion or sexual preference. Also there is a HUGE fight going on in California that needs help. Now is the time for uniting. Kinda like our name, huh?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Taking it down a notch

I know my recent blog posts have been fringed with anger and/or frustration. Please know how much I appreciate those that come back in spite of it. It has been a rough couple of months but even I am tired of thinking about them so I can't even imagine how tired everyone else is of hearing about it.

On to lighter fare. Maybe I should do a small update on other areas of my life.

-We met a cool couple and have been hanging out with them a lot. It's cool because we usually aren't the type of people that venture out of our circle of friends. They have a daughter about our son's age and their youngest daughter is two years younger than ours.

-Did I mention we got a new dog? Her name is Missy and she is the cutest and sweetest pup. Our friend is a vet at an emergency animal hospital and Missy was brought in because she swallowed a rope toy (warning for all pet owners) and it was lodged in her intestines. She had to have surgery that cost $2,000 and the 18 year old couple that brought her in didn't want to pay for it. So they surrendered her and our friend called us. It seemed like fate cause my cocker spaniel growing up was named Missy.

-Work is ok. I'm not having the fun I once was but the pace has gotten very hectic and everyone is stressed. One of the major projects I worked on was approved so we are making some big changes to our 401(k) plan. I got a special note from the Sr. VP's of HR and Compensation thanking me for all the work.

-I have barely exercised all summer and it has finally caught up to me. Now I'm getting up at 4:50am during the week to work out. I thought I would hate it but I'm actually enjoying the quiet time and not rushing around like crazy cause I hit the snooze one time too many.

-I'm training for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January. This will be my third time doing it. It is to raise money for an organization that means a lot to me. I have to raise $1,000 before mid-December since the organization pays my entry fee for the marathon.

-We got a new car. Ok, not we but my husband did. It is a Pontiac G8. He got it in July and I have yet to drive it.

-My brother is coming to visit for Christmas. I am so excited since he hasn't been to visit me since I was pregnant with my son 13 years ago and we were living in Texas.

-We are closing the pool on October 10th. It can't come soon enough. Our electric bills went up $150 a month when it opened.

I think that is it. Hope I don't get that far behind on updating again........

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ever have one of those months????

I am so not going to miss the month of September. It has been hectic beyond belief and I need some downtime without having company or visitors. My mom left a few weeks ago after spending a staggering 8.5 weeks with us over the summer. She did it to help with our son and all the problems we had with him but it was seriously time for her to go home. I appreciated the help enormously but her opinions and judgements were getting to be too much.

Of course my mood is not helped by all the news about the economy being in the dump and the ridiculous accusations the McCain clan is hurling at Obama. I am seriously ready to wake up November 5th and see how it ended. Today I was doing some mindless surfing on the 'net to avoid work when I came upon this on
Huffington Post:


Talk about making me perk up!! I got so excited to think that this is going to be over soon and we stand a real chance at making some huge changes in this country. There have been many points where I have wanted the Obama camp to call McCain out on his double standards, outright lies, and make a bigger issue about his personal life (hello, 1st Mrs. McCain) but that isn't how Obama wants to win this campaign. I think recent events are helping undecided voters see how they are truly different and that Obama is the one who is going to change things not this faux "Maverick".

I'm crossing my fingers and toes that this is actually how it turns out.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jumping in the Fray

I am not one to shy away from political topics or religious discussions. I truly believe if your beliefs are strong enough that hearing someone else's thoughts and opinions will have no bearing on yours. Hearing someone else's beliefs has no bearing on mine as they weren’t born overnight and I think deeply about an issue before I develop my own opinion.

I love to hear others opinions on an array of beliefs because it is interesting to me that you can be so similar in some ways but polar opposites on others. Usually I harbor no ill feelings toward someone on the other side of my belief as the world would be boring if we all had the same thoughts and feelings. However, the things that are coming out of the mouths of Republicans these past few weeks are making my stomach ache. I don’t understand why politics play any part in some of the areas they are swerving into like drunken sailors on shore leave.

Where does politics belong in deciding the right to same sex marriage, abortion and promoting the NRA? Nowhere in my mind. Those are religious and personal beliefs and have nothing to do with how the government should be run and used. It makes me sick that politicians use those beliefs to play us against each other and the Republican side tries to divide us rather than bring us together as a nation. It reminds me of when my brother and I shared a bedroom when we were growing up. We couldn’t stand to be in the same place as each other sometimes so we would draw the line down the middle of the room and neither of us was allowed on the others “side”. Now imagine if my mother had encouraged that divisiveness instead of talking to each of us and trying to work through our problems with each other.

John McCain honestly believes he is going to trick women voters into voting for him because of his pick of a woman for the Vice President. This choice alone defines him as a politician. He believes us naive enough that we will blindly cast our precious vote for 4 more years of the catastrophic Bush Administration. And if I am stupid enough to do that, how can I miss the fact that this woman is against the most fundamental rights I have as a woman? To me the only difference between her and McCain is which door they use to go into the bathroom.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Mother of All Blues

I need a moment to unwind from a trip to visit my mother in Missouri for a week. Prior to us going there, she had been here in Maryland for almost 6 weeks keeping an eye on the boy child. We got along great while she was here but something changed when we got to Missouri.

The plan was to surprise her with my brother coming to visit with me and then end the trip with a surprise 60th birthday party for her. I thought she would be so happy that my brother is doing so well and really has grown and matured since she saw him 3 years ago. What I witnessed amazed me.

We hadn't been there an hour before she pulled out her mental honey-do list and started ticking off things she would love for my brother to accomplish while he was there. His work schedule had changed since we made our original plans so he wasn't going to be able to stay the whole week with us so he had to act quick! She had a LOT of projects for him.

The projects. Oh, they weren't minor. They were sealing her roof to prevent a leak from continuing, tearing out (and rebuilding) a wall on the outside of her house, and various other projects. She is so passive aggressive that the requests come out something like this, "Gosh, I don't know what is going on with that roof in my pantry. It just started leaking out of nowhere!" when the conversation was about cake or something. She won't come out and ask anything directly but hums and haws until you get tired of tap dancing around the subject and just do it to shut her up.

The thing that really bothered and affected me the hardest was her total inability to relate to him. She was aloof unless it was related to her getting projects finished. He bought the materials for her and she acted like she did us a favor by letting us do things for her. I noticed the first time she told him she loved him was when he was getting frustrated with the project and it seemed forced in order to diffuse a difficult situation.

He has had a problem with drinking since we were teenagers but told us he had quit. He told us about an intense treatment program he completed upon his release from prison. We suspected he drank once when we were there. I didn't ask though our mother brought it up to me. She was all too happy to report to me that when she was cleaning up after we left that she found vodka in one of the water bottles. I wanted to shout that if I had been sober before showing up that I would have falled off the wagon almost immediately.

I guess I came back from the trip more disillusioned about my mother than I was before I left. It hurts to think that a mother could have so little regard for their own child that they only want from them. To use their love and concern to their advantage.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update on the Homefront

After a few appointments and interviews, the doctor at Children's Hospital thinks our son has Asperger's. It is tough to think that there really is something wrong with him that he won't outgrow but at least it gives us something to work with and he is healthy otherwise.

I am in the midst of planning my mother's 60th birthday party in Missouri. From Maryland. Can I tell you how much fun that is? I am trying to hunt down her friends whom I haven't seen or heard from in years all without her catching on. She is staying with us right now to watch our son so it is difficult to say the least. The best part is the place that is going to wind up doing the catering doesn't have menus or set prices. Hey, what can I say. It is a tiny dot on the map and things are much slower there.

My brother is going to drive down from Kansas City with me when I fly to Missouri. I am so excited because I haven't seen him in 3 years. I'm not so sure my Mom is going to be as excited so I am keeping it as a "surprise".

I burned my face and shoulders on Saturday for like the millionth time this summer. I know better but somehow always forget to put on sunscreen. My face is going to be like a baseball mitt by the time I turn 40.

I think that is about it. Sorry I haven't been back around since my last post but I appreciate the support and comments. It is great to know you are here when I can get back into a regular reading/commenting mode.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where's the "In Case of Emergency, Pull Cord" when you need it?

Thanks Amanda for the sweet comment yesterday asking where I have been. It has been a rough month in my household and I haven't quite been up to the light mood I try and keep on my blog. I am a mother but use this blog to express who I am besides my mommy title. My kids mean everything to me but that isn't all I am. So I try not to make this a total mommy blog where I prattle on and on about my precocious snots.

But in order to explain where I have been (and not here), I have to say a few words about my son. He has been mentioned before in a few blogs and I touched very lightly on some of the issues we have with him. He was diagnosed with ADD 4 years ago and we made the difficult decision to medicate him. I researched alternative methods of treating his issues and they just didn't work the way medicine has. It has been a rollercoaster ride full of mostly uphill battles but we fight on so he does well in school and relates better to his peers.

My son can be wonderfully kind and sweet but lately we have seen a new side come out that is selfish, self-centered and unpleasant. Some say its because he is on the crusp of adolescence and hormones are developing. We bought that for a while. The mouth he lets say whatever it wants regardless of the hurtfulness of the words is a new development but we have talked to him about it rather than screaming which is what I am sure we would both prefer. He has become vindictive and manipulative. It has been trying to say the least.

A few months ago he called on his way home from school and said that a boy pushed him in the hallway causing him to go flying into his locker door and break his glasses. According to him this boy had been picking on him and calling him all kinds of mean names. I hesitate to intervene when it is name calling but when it became physical I rushed to the school and informed them I was filing a report with the police. Long story short, the police came and reviewed the survelliance tapes at the school and said there was no proof as the boy couldn't even be placed in the same area as my son. When the truth finally came out my son said that he lied so the boy would leave him alone.

About two months ago I was called by the school nurse that my son had been hurt in PE. His explanation was that he was sitting on a mat and a boy told him to move and son said no. The other boy grabbed him by the arm and pulled him off and caused a red mark around his wrist. I was furious and made sure the assistant principal saw the mark and took a report. The boy was suspended for a day. A few weeks ago, I found out that son lied about the mark and did it himself by rubbing his wrist. His reason? He was mad at the boy for telling him to move and trying to pull him off.

Over Memorial Day weekend we had some relatives down from NYC and a friend of son's came over to swim. They were all getting along and then son and his friend got into a fight. Sam told son to get out of the water and son screamed that he hated him. Sam took him into the house to talk to him and yes, he yelled at him outside in front of everyone but he never hit him. Wednesday after Memoria Day we got a call from CPS saying that they needed to interview us because of some marks on son's neck. We were stunned and met with CPS before we talked to son and when we confronted him about the marks he admitted he did them to himself to make his dad feel bad.

Needless to say we are beside ourselves at the mess we are in with this kid. Everything we do is never enough or right. When I took him to the pediatrician two weeks ago and told the doctor everything the doctor sat there with his mouth hanging open. He asked son how it made him feel to know that he got that other boy suspended for a day from school and son's response was "Bad?" like he wasn't sure how he was supposed to respond. One of son's only concerns after we had CPS called on us due to his lies was that his shoes that were ordered on-line hadn't come in yet. The doctor told me that son has no conscience and needs serious mental evaluation.

Tomorrow we start the process of getting him evaluated. Luckily we have a great satellite office of Children's Hopsital in DC and they have a pyschiatric department. I had to fill out pages and pages of paper for the appointment and he is so well defined in these pages. All of the "odd" things I have seen and heard were captured in these pages. I'm no psychiatrist but I'm thinking its not a good sign to be able to check so many yes's on those pages.

So dear Amanda and any other readers who are curious, that is where I have been. I apologize for being absent from your blogs and hope to get back soon. The other problem is we have had our internet time severely cut at work because of auditors and the boss buzzing around constantly like flies. Hope you all and your families are well and your summer is going great.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Forces of Nature

The pictures speak for their self....





I couldn't even tell you how this happened. We had a storm come through last night that reminded me seriously of growing up in Tornado Alley of the midwest. This tree did not get hit by lightning and barely made a sound when it went down. The fence is crushed under it.

Believe in Global Warming now???

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

Oh, that's right. Summer hasn't officially begun yet, has it? Then why the hell is the temperature over 90 degrees before noon? Did I accidentally move in the middle of the night to the Sahara Desert?

We're off to a pool party for daughter. It stinks because there will be tons of kids, no shade and no chairs. Daughter doesn't know it yet but we won't be staying long.

After the pool party we are off to watch the Belmont race. I'm totally lying. I'm not watching anything other than my empty beer cans pile up.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Touch

It's amazing how much you can miss someone without realizing it. You don't even know that a piece of yourself is missing because you can't stay in contact with someone you love. Even if you haven't been able to keep in close contact for years.

My brother finally has e-mail. He sent pictures of himself and where he is working in Kansas City. His life is turning around (*knock on wood*) and he is working his butt off in a job where his past won't come back to bite him.

My soul is at peace in a way it hasn't been in many years. I don't constantly fear a ringing phone. Ringing phones at odd hours bring bad news. Arrests, jail fights, or bar fights. They all happen at odd hours.

For the first time in 15 years I can hear a phone ring and not worry about my brother. He e-mails me at odd hours but that is because of his work shift. And as long as he is working and proud of his work, he is ok. Being able to reach out to him and talk about everyday events rather than packing a year's worth of events into a 10-15 minute phone call is truly priceless.

That is all I have ever wanted. Isn't he sweet?


I love that kid so much. We went through the trenches of hell together and made it out the other side. It took him a little longer to crawl through but I watched him surface and spit over his shoulder. He's not going back.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A funny thing happened this weekend....

Apparently if you leave a laptop out on the dining room table, your guests will help themselves to it. To check their e-mails. And not sign out.

I am now the surprised owner of the knowledge that Sam's cousin is not in the monogamous relationship that she thinks. Her dumbass boyfriend didn't think to sign out of his Yahoo account after he checked his e-mail. I had no clue until I clicked into what I thought was MY Yahoo e-mail.

He is still signed up for the Latin version of Match.com and is getting e-mails from women regularly. And doesn't delete them. A quick check of his sent items confirmed he is corresponding with several of them.

What to do, what to do.....

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I love my friends but...

I am always amazed when I spend time with them at the differences between us. Yes, differences are good. They are why we seek friendships and relationships. But sometimes I am surprised at the way my friends act or respond to things.

We had friends over yesterday that we only see a few times a year. I mentioned them last week because their daughter and son came over for our son's birthday party. They came back this weekend for some swimming and grilling. In the span of 6 hours they had me pulling my hair out.

Some highlights of what bothered me:

They showed up starving. All 6 of them. We had barely started grilling and the swooped in and cleaned everything out. The kids were trying to take seconds before most of us had even had our first helping.

Everyone is eating the salsa. Don't let the 2 year old throw chips in the bowl.

Speaking of the 2 year old, don't tell my kids you are going to pull them off the trampoline so the 2 year old can bounce by herself because she's scared of being on there with so many kids.

Also on the subject of the 2 year old, why would you bring her over and let everyone kiss all over her before you tell us that the Tylenol is wearing off and her fever is coming back?

After searching the refrigerator my friend informed me that she was baking cookies and would I like some?

While baking cookies there is an uproar in the house so my friend comes to tell me that my daughter is crying and her daughter needs a band-aid. I go in to find my daughter with a bruised nose and red mark on her chin. I ask the girls what happened as my daughter sobs. Her daughter decided to push her way into the bathroom with my daughter inside and my daughter got hit in the face with the door. Did she mention that to me since she was right there or even reprimand her daughter? Nope to both questions.

Neither parent could be bothered to watch when their two kids were in the pool. Facing the other direction completely. Listen, I invited you and I didn't ask for anything other than fruit salad. I am NOT going to be soley responsible for watching 6 kids in the pool when 2 of them are yours.

When my friend got cold she went inside and spent the rest of the time texting. I understand its cold but its rude.

There was more and there were other annoyances from a few others who showed up (empty handed but drink like they are college freshman) but those were the major annoyances. I don't really feel much better about it but the weather is perfect, the pool temp is rising and I have the house to myself. I am sitting on the deck typing this in relative silence. Things are definitely looking up.

Friday, May 16, 2008

What the HELL was I thinking???

At this very moment, I am the 'mother' to four kids. Yes, four. The count stands at two 12 year olds, 1 ten year old and 1 six year old. I must have been smoking something mighty fine when I offered this deal. Too bad I used it all up before they took me up on the offer......

When my son was 4 years old, he met a girl in daycare. He was enamored with her from the beginning. He was always reserved and quiet and she was outgoing and loud. They were both only children and had doting parents who paid attention to their every sneeze, cough and hiccup. Her mother was soon to be married to a man with 2 sons and we were soon to give him a littler sister and then they moved away. The good part of the story is that our kids introduced us to each other and we have been great friends who stayed in touch in spite of their move 45 minutes away.

Fast forward to 8 years later. The former 4 year olds are now 12 and each has sisters now. She even has brothers. I give my friend a ton of credit because in addition to the 2 sons she has essentially adopted, they decided to have one of their own. Yes, that equals 4 kids under one roof. I question her sanity every time we talk but she handles it much better than I ever could.

Our kids have grown up very different but neither of them has forgotten the beginning of their relationship. She has turned into a beautiful pre-teen who is determined (read bossy), educated (read opinionated), and determined to be heard (read loud as hell). Even through all of that, I still see the gutsy little girl who stood up for my defenseless little 4 year old and I adore her.

My son's birthday party is tomorrow and the only way she could attend is if her mother dropped her off tonight along with her younger stepbrother. They live over 45 minutes away and their plans tomorrow could not include a trip here. My son has struggled with friendships since we moved here 3 years ago and doesn't have a lot of friends coming tomorrow. So I said ok and they came tonight. As soon as her mother left, 'The Mouth' started. She has taken control of the WII, questioned both boys on their manhood and told us when she was getting in the pool in the morning.

After tolerating all I could, I looked at Sam and asked if it was bedtime yet. He looked at the clock and sadly informed it that it was only 8pm. Currently, I am drinking myself into a stupor and praying for an instant pass-out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just in case you're the worrying kind

I haven't dropped off the face of the planet. I haven't moved to Tahiti. Although the move enters my mind daily. Who wouldn't love living in a grass hut on the water? Maybe not everyone but I would. It certainly appeals to me lately with the hectic pace of my life. Just a few updates....

We survived daughter's birthday. She turned 6 and it is a great age. She is very aware of her day and made the most of it. I ran back home from work to take her cupcakes and eat lunch with her. Can I just say school lunches still suck? Man those chicken nuggets felt like something that I fished out from underneath one of the kids' beds after 6 months of 'preservation'. We also had the pleasure of dining at McDonald's that night. I really tried to steer her someplace classier (Burger King would have done) but she wanted McD's.

We survived son's birthday/Mother's Day. Son turned 12 and was much more calm about his day. Once his presents were opened, he didn't really care about it. If we would have given him a loaf of bread, case of soda and a pot to piss in, we wouldn't have seen him all day while he played his new video games.

The weekend with the IL's was, well, as always it was interesting. Brother-in-law is feuding with Stepfather-in-law so didn't say two words to him in 24 hours. Mother-in-law is understandably caught in the middle. On the other hand, I had a great time with BIL's girlfriend. She and I had been e-mailing back and forth last week and I mentioned that I want the WII Fit. What do you think she got me for Mother's Day? Awwwww, I heart her ; )

On tap this weekend is son's pool party with his friends. It is supposed to rain again. What a shock. We got almost 5 inches of rain in 48 hours this weekend so of course we were all stuck inside. 10 people inside with 2 of them not speaking. You've got to love family get- togethers!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

It takes so little to encourage me...

All props for this post go to a new commentor on my blog. Jess left a comment basically saying "if you're going to talk about it the least you can do is show us what the heck you are doing" ; ) I'm not sure she knows me well enough to know I am embellishing or taking artistic liberties with her innocent enough comment but it was all I needed to write this post.

I mentioned early on in my blog that we put in a pool last year. I don't write about it to brag but to merely state how overwhelmed we have been finishing off the landscaping and cleaning it all up after the winter. The pool was done at the end of July but what the pool company failed to tell us is that only the POOL was finished. We have done hours and hours of back-breaking labor since then to make it look finished. It is amazing how little tons and tons of money buys you. I won't shock you with the final amount the pool cost us but what would really shock is you is how much more we have had to do on our own to complete the look. Let me just say, Sam is from NYC where their idea of landscaping is asphalt and I lack in the inspiration department.

So we discussed it, talked to friends and went to Lowe's to figure out how we wanted to cover all the dirt that was left. The contractors don't throw even a seed of grass down on their way out with the final check. We decided on river rock around the retaining wall and on the side of the house so we wouldn't have mulch too close to the pool. It turned out really great.

But as you can see, we had exposed dirt very close to the pool. And what is worse is they had pressed it down hard so the only thing growing up was weeds. Here is a picture of the side you can't see (it would be left of where this picture is taken) where there was a huge drop-off due to the pitch after the grading.

You can't see it well because I didn't like that side so I didn't take many pictures of it. But this year we decided to sod the whole area in the spring so it wouldn't be all dirt and our landscaper said we wouldn't really be able to do sod on the grade so we needed to build another retaining wall. And we did.




The black dirt is where they planted shade grass because the sod won't take right under the tree. Here is another angle:




This was literally as they were laying the sod so it looks a little rough but it came in great and we are really loving the results. Don't mind the overgrown look. We haven't been able to cut it yet due to the fragility of the sod and new grass.





And there you have it. 60 bags of 40-pound bags of top soil to fill in that spot between the pool and the retaining wall. It was back-breaking and exhausting but well worth it. I am finally feeling like I can go out there and sit still without jumping up and down to fix this and that. Told you I had issues ; ) Thanks for the idea, Jess. If only I were so easily encouraged in other areas of my life.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I lied.....

We got up early this morning and went to eat breakfast. Even though the day was overcast and gloomy, I couldn't resist the pull of going to Lowe's and buying the rest of the top soil we needed. It killed me to leave the project we started last weekend unfinished. When we had the retaining wall built in March there was a large space between the existing landscaping and the wall. It had been impossible to plant anything there before due to the slope but in order to plant anything now, we had to fill in a ton of top soil due to the pitch.

Last weekend we started the filling but Sam quickly lost interest and we didn't finish. I planted two of the four plants we bought and put in 20 bags of top soil but it was still pitiful looking. Today we went and bought 40 more bags of soil and we finished it off. It looks a lot better and I am happy it is completed. Now we have to figure out how to cover it to keep the dirt from turning to mud everytime it rains or getting all dried up in the summer.

It is a neverending project and I am seriously wondering when I will ever consider it done. It looks so much better but I see so much more to do. Yes, I have issues. My lazy weekend has now turned into nursing a sore back and adding a nap into the schedule.

Friday, May 2, 2008

45 minutes and counting.....

Give me 30-40 minutes to get home from work and then it is ON!!!! Let the weekend begin.

The weather is gorgeous and I am dying to get out of these stiff work clothes. Not literally stiff but you know what I mean. I am ready to kick off all shoes that don't show my toes for 2 days.

No big plans but I can tell you what I won't be doing. I won't be doing research on employees 401(k) accounts. I won't be talking about death (part of my job) and I certainly won't be talking about divorce (yes, its also part of my job). Well I can't PROMISE I won't be talking about divorce. It really depends on how badly Sam gets on my nerves.

What I will be doing: reading my new book "The Quickie" by James Patterson and some guy who really did all the writing but his name is so small on the cover I can't remember it; reading all of my Runner's World magazines while not running; grilling steak on the grill (ok, Sam will be doing this while I criticize from the chair I have my ass planted in), and of course, catching up on all my favorite blogs.

To be fair, I am going to have an insane weekend next week. My kids' birthdays are within 4 DAYS of each other and all of the insane in-laws are making the trek down from NYC to celebrate their birthdays plus Mother's Day. I am not going to have a second to do anything for myself next weekend regardless of that stupid holiday for mothers.

Hope everyone's weekend is as productive as mine should be ; )

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Cluttered Mind

Cleaning the house has always been my job. Sam could care less if we sat knee-deep in our own waste as long as he could lay on the couch undisturbed. Growing up in a filthy household (I do mean filthy but won't elaborate right now), I swore my house would never, ever, ever be a source of embarassment to me or my kids. Never would they be afraid to bring friend's over because of the mess and smell and I would not be ashamed to have anyone enter my front door again.

I realize this obsession is my own neurosis and of my own making. But I can NOT go an entire week without cleaning my house. When I say cleaning I mean vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, dusting, cleaning bathrooms and all surfaces. Every night before I go to bed everything gets picked up and put away, the dishes are in the dishwasher and the house is right. I have relaxed a little as time has gone by but I still get all discombobulated if the house isn't thoroughly cleaned at least once a week.

When I worked full-time before my daughter was born, it wasn't as difficult to keep the house clean. We had a townhouse which we didn't even use the basement so that was two small floors to clean and one child to pick up after. It might have taken me an hour and a half on a Saturday morning. Then when I was home with my daughter it was therapeutic to get everyone out of the house after the weekend and get the house back in order. Now that I am back at work full-time, I hardly have time for anything let alone keeping the house to my standards.

Every once in a while I will discuss this with Sam and tell him how unfair it is that the responsibility falls to me alone and that it seems the rest of the family's mission is to undo what I worked so hard to clean. He looks at me like I'm crazy and tells me that the house isn't even dirty when I clean it. Let me assure you that I have NEVER cleaned my house when it is clean. Never happened and never will. I might be a bit OCD but I am inherently lazy and would rather sit on the computer or read a book than clean the house. It's just that my brain won't function right knowing that the house is a mess. I make half-hearted attempts to get Sam to help and enlist the kids in their help but it never fails that about 30-45 minutes into the forced cleaning session they are all driving me crazy, are in my way and not doing anything right so I kick them all out. Go to DC to a museum or go to lunch but just go.

After some thought I have decided to get a cleaning service. I realize I have spent way too much of my kid's childhoods cleaning this or that while they ask me to come see this or that or take them to the park. So I came to the conclusion that it doesn't have to be me that cleans the house. Cleaning services are professionals with much more experience than me in this area so I can trust them to get the job done, right? I have pretty much convinced myself of this fact. Now I can spend more time on the weekends with my kids doing whatever we want to. My soul is a bit lighter today knowing that within the next few hours my house will be spotless. I won't go home tonight and look around at all of the cleaning I have to get done and wonder how much of my Saturday morning will be eaten up. It is a very liberating feeling.

Of course I won't mention the amount of time I spent cleaning up last night so the cleaning service won't think I am a complete slob. I really need therapy ; )

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yardwork

We are cleaning the entire outdoors today, it seems. Why do we bother picking up leaves off the ground when more fall from the trees? Isn't this much like making the bed you will sleep in again in about 12 hours?

I've been dreaming of a frosty cold beer since 10am. Before I even ate breakfast....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Playing hooky

I've been a mother since I was 21. I worked full-time until my second child was born and then decided to take a few years "off" (if you don't know why those quotes are there then you are obviously not a parent or involved aunt/uncle ; ) to enjoy my kid's childhoods and finish my degree. It was great to spend the time focused on my kids and I cherish those days because I know they will never come again. But in the process, I never really developed my own identity separate from my mother moniker and as my kids get older I struggle to find just who that person is and what she wants from life.

One of the things I am not accustomed to is doing pretty much anything without a child beside me. We don't go out a lot without them and I hardly leave the house with at least one begging to go too. Several of my friends are known to take a day or two off periodically with the kids in school and their husbands at work to catch up things they want and need to do. This never occurs to me since I usually have a crappy vacation policy at whatever job I am at or it wasn't possible when I stayed at home with the kids. Usually I save all my vacation for a measly week off with the family and any various illnesses that come up with the kids during the year. My current job's vacation policy rocks though and I get 3 weeks of vacation, 5 days of sick and 2 personal days. No more stretching it as thin as it will go especially since I can work from home when the kids are sick so I don't have to waste a day off.

Last week was so stressful that on Monday when I was looking down the barrel of a full week of unknowns, I decided to do the unthinkable. I e-mailed my boss and requested a personal day. And didn't tell Sam until my boss approved. I didn't want him trying to make any plans for me or offering to take the day off too. Immediately I e-mailed my close girlfriend (also my neighbor) and asked her if she would be interested in a long lunch with a few cocktails. The reason I love her is because of her immediate enthusiasm and she responded quickly with approval.

Of course my guilt got the best of me and I offered to go to my daughter's school for the morning. The class will take turns reading to me but that actually sounds cool to me. It will make the time go fast as I sit and figure out what I will be drinking when I get out of there.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Preparing for a painful death

Once upon a time, I was a workout queen. On average, I walked or jogged 20-24 miles a week and did Winsor Pilates 5-6 times a week. I went from a size 18 after having my daughter to a 6-8 and lost 75 pounds. Then the inevitable slide began. I gained about 20-25 pounds back and barely log 4-8 miles a week and hardly ever fit in a Pilates workout. And I sit here a size 10-12 now. Doesn't sound awful but when people were always commenting on how much I had lost and now look at me like "WTF happened?", I get a bit self-conscious. It is time to do something about it especially when bathing suit season is around the corner.

So like I always do when I want quick (and unattainable) results, I go extreme. We ordered the p90X system by Tony Horton this weekend and it should be here later this week. I have NO idea what I have done to myself and suspect that I am going to wind up watching the workouts from the floor with my arms flung out like flat tires and crying like a newborn baby. Even at my fittest, my arms were the least toned part on my body because, let's face it, the only lifting I enjoy is the beer from the table to my mouth.

The e-mail came today that said the system is in the mail and will be here in a few days. Honestly, I shivered when I read that e-mail. This is one time I am seriously hoping the mail system breaks and loses my package. Wish me luck and don't hate me if I am blogging next week with my nose.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not such a good week.....

For the most part, I love my job. My boss is the best boss I have ever had and my co-workers are all parents and understanding of sick kids, homework club and snow/ice days. If I need to work from home they are accomodating and don't give me a hard time. I guess there was bound to be a "rough spot" and I found it this week.

It started at the beginning of March when my boss sent that hilarious e-mail about giving us projects that would have ridiculous turn-around times. Boy, he wasn't kidding. One of the projects I was assigned was extensive but it was completed last year and "only needed the data refreshed with current population demographics". No biggie, right? WRONG!

We recently went through a payroll conversion which means all of the data I needed to refresh was in the new system (with no access to the old information) and it is a mess. I can't rely on the numbers I was getting out of it so I worked around it. Plus I had two other projects to complete by the end of March. All of this had to be done in time for a big executive meeting that was yesterday. Throw in our week of lost work from the trip to Boston and I was in a serious crunch. I haven't been with the company for long so I asked a co-worker that worked on the first project for help. She showed me what data to refresh and let me go.

Fast forward to yesterday. Boss is STRESSED out and asking for the data. I give it to him and he comes back out with a graphic I had never before laid eyes on and asked about it. Said I had never seen it and if he could tell me where he got his data, I would do my best to recreate it. He said to get with co-worker when she got in to work on it before the afternoon meeting. So I did. And she had never seen it before either. LONG story short, the presentation was not ready to go before the big executive meeting that afternoon. Boss was PISSED. He yelled at co-worker and she was pissed at me all morning today. We had a staff meeting where a second co-worker brought up the fact that if we are having trouble on a project or need help, we need to be vocal and not let it fall through the cracks. I had to stop her there and say that I knew they were looking directly at me on this but that for the record, I did what I was told needed to be done and that he never showed me the graphic before yesterday. To say I was upset is an understatement. I am fairly new and don't have all the 401(k) experience that they do besides the fact that I didn't work on the original project so didn't really know what to "refresh" and relied on co-worker's explanation.

I need to get over it. When I get upset I tend to overreact and I don't want to do that here. I love my job and need to learn how to take my lumps and let it go as lesson learned. But the child in me wants to throw a fit and storm off. At what age does one finally grow up?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Another WTF moment in my life....

Scene: Me minding my own business alternating work with clock-watching (come ON 4:30!) Enter ringing phone. It wasn't even my line but a shared line we all have and I was the only one available to answer. So I do. BIG mistake. Actual conversation follows....

Me: HR, this is Me.

She: Yes ma'am. My name is Jane Doe and I am trying to find out if I can transfer my dental insurance. I left the company and moved and want to know if I can keep the dental insurance.

Me: Well I'm not sure. This is the 401(k) department and we don't handle the medical or dental benefits. Let me see if I can find someone to help you with this. Can you hold?

She: Yes.

I walk down the hall to our benefits call center where not a freaking soul is to be found. No one. Do they not stagger lunches at all? I return to my cube.

Me: Ma'am, I'm sorry. There is no one available right now (read: they are all busy getting drunk on margaritas at Joe's Crab Shack) to answer this question but I would be happy to take a message and have them return your call as soon as they come back (think to self, Don't trust anything they say after a 3-hour liquid lunch).

She: Ok.

Me: Great. Ok, you said your name was Jane Doe. Can I get your number?

She: Yes, it is 555-1234.

Me: And what is the area code?

She: 555

Me: Yes, I have the 555-1234 already. What is your area code?

She: Oh, it is 3847 Winston Place...

Me: Ma'am, I need your area code.

She: You need what?

Me: Your AREA CODE.

She: It is 555.

seriously falling out of my chair

Me: So if I am going to call you back I am going to dial 555-555-1234

She: Hold on a second while I grab a pen to write that down.

silently banging my head on the back of my chair

Me: Ma'am, I am asking about the number for us to return your call not for you to call!! If I call you back I am going to dial 555-555-1234?

She: Oh, no. You are going to dial 554.

Me: Ok, so 554-555-1234?

She: Yes.

Me: Ok ma'am. Someone will return your call as soon as possible.

Surprise! It turns out 554 isn't really an area code so no one will be returning her call anytime at all. Argh!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Shhhh, listen. It's quiet here....

I am the coolest wife EVER. Sam took half the day off to go out to lunch and do some early drinking with our neighbor. Apparently neighbor and neighbor's brother-in-law roped him into going out to West Virginia (enter hillbilly banjos) to go to the titty bars. Sam was upfront with me and I was fine with it. Neighbor called and tried to feed me the bullshit story he is telling his wife and sister (to cover for his brother-in-law) and I was cool until the end when I said "Have fun at the titty bar." and he broke up laughing. Their wives would NOT be happy if they knew.

So now I get the whole evening to myself. My daughter is happily playing Webkinz on the other computer and my son is down the street at a friend's house. Why is it that when Sam is gone it is so much quieter and life is more relaxed? I love the man dearly but he is a huge source of crazy in this house......

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pain in the Neck. Literally.

The weekend before I left for Boston was pretty crazy even by our standards. I passed out on the floor of my neighbor's garage, peed on their daughter's bedroom floor, and then started all over again the next day at a friend of theirs house. We wound up staying the night on an inflatable mattress in their living room (no pee this time, thank GOD!) to avoid driving 45 minutes home severely impaired. Sleeping on that mattress really did a number on my neck and I only made it worse sleeping in an unfamiliar bed with too-hard foam pillows in Boston. To make matters even worse, I got hit from behind pretty hard while Formula 1 racing.

So today I mustered up the energy to trek off to the doctor and have my neck examined. She had me do some resistance exercises to prove that I CAN move it which I already told her I could. Problem being that it hurts like hell to move it. If someone walks up behind or beside me I turn my whole body to acknowledge them to avoid moving my neck. The doctor basically listened, patted my neck, listened to my breathing and gave me a prescription for Flexeril and Relafan. I'm no expert but how is a muscle relaxant supposed to do any good for me if I have to take it only when I go to bed because it will make me sleepy? What you've just told me is that I will only be relaxed when I sleep. Um ok. That is when I am pain-free anyway. The pain exists when I'm AWAKE.....

Monday, March 17, 2008

In Boston on St. Patrick's Day. Sick.....

Train was not all it was cracked up to be by the boss. Listening to extremely obnoxious investment banker on cellphone from Newark, NJ to Boston was not the highlight of the ride. Kicking her in the foot because she would not move her Jimmy Choo's back a step to get out of my limited space definitely was.

She put her huge purse on my side of the table when I got up to get lunch. Right in front of my chair. Acted like it was a huge inconvenience to move it when I got back. When I sat down, I had my feet propped up against the rails around my chair so she slid down in her chair and stretched out her feet on my side. I hit her foot when I put my feet down normally. Bitch stared at me over my laptop and basically challenged me to say something but it would have been hard since she apparently is deaf from having earphones plugged into her tiny little ears when they aren't stuck to a Blackberry or cute little pink Razer. I have never hated a stranger as much as I did her by the time we got off that train. Needless to say, I am soooooo grateful to be flying back on Thursday morning because, thank GOD, there are no cellphones on planes...........

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Short on memories but it was funnnnnn....

After a long week full of sick kids, 40 hours at work and a minor illness of my own, I was ready to let my hair down and drink the pain away last night. Details are sketchy but here is what I do know. Most were retold to make sure I was truly shamed. Mission accomplished. Timeline of events follows....

7:15pm-Neighbor calls to inform me our husbands got completely trashed playing his new beer pong game. Go next door to retrieve completely intoxicated hubby.

7:20pm-I am roped into playing beer pong. I have already been drinking so probably not my best decision. Male neighbor goes to bed.

7:30pm-Quit beer pong because I am not a good player which equals I will be drinking. A lot.

8:30pm-Order food for delivery from local pizza and sandwich shop. Leave with neighbor to go pick up her son from a middle school dance.

8:40pm-Leave my beer in her car to go into school. Watch kids dance and even dance with my neighbor to the Black-Eyed Peas, Let's Get it Started. Luckily her son sees none of this.

9:00pm-Tease neighbor's son relentlessly over his slow dance with his girlfriend. Neither of them would look at each other when they were dancing. Awwwwww......

9:10pm-Back home and food is here. First I have to go put hubby to bed.

9:30pm-Food is eaten and we start doing vodka shots. I have already drank about 12 beers. NOT my best decision.

10:00pm-Someone calls Sam's cellphone. A woman is asking for him but won't tell me who it is. She hangs up and when I try to call her back she won't answer. I finally figure out it is our other neighbors so I run to get my cellphone so I can call her partner. She answers and they are drinking too.

10:05pm-Why not combine our parties? We jump in the car to drive one street over and crash their house. I give my neighbor a tour of their house before I even introduce them ; )

10:20pm-Stagger down the road with Jen while Amy and their company all cram into neighbor's car for the ride back.

*The following events will be told from other people's points of view and not my own. I can neither confirm or deny there validity but I can guarantee they are embellishing or flat-out lying.

10:30pm-I try and open the refrigerator to get another beer but the door won't open with my weight against it. So I slide down to the floor and pass out on it.

10:31pm-Neighbor comes back down to the garage after being a responsible parent and checking on the kids to find me passed out on her floor in front of the refrigerator with a garage full of people she has known for 21 minutes. Hee hee.

10:35pm-Neighbor and Amy drag me upstairs to neighbor's son's bed. I freak out because Sam is home passed out but neighbor assures me kids are fine and will sleepover as well.

10:40pm-Neighbor takes my keys and, with Jen, goes to tell Sam of my unfortunate demise. Sam is woken to two women in his bedroom. It totally does not matter to him that one of them doesn't like guys. I am sure he will remember that awakening forever. He comes back over to neighbor's house to hang out with her since he knows at least two of the people at her house that she doesn't.

10:40pm-4:30am-No real clue what is happening since I am passed out. Apparently I got up at some point because I wake up on the floor of neighbor's daughter's room.

4:40am-Sam and neighbor find me on my knees on floor with hands outstretched wailing because I can't find the girls. They are puzzled by two things. One, how did I wind up in the daughter's room and two, why am I wet? I am curious about this as well. Did I spill something, I ask? No, there is nothing laying around on the floor. Yep, I peed myself on the floor of their daughter's room.

5:00am-Neighbor's husband is up and we all say good night/morning.

12:00pm-Neighbor's are back and want to know when I am going to clean the floor. And ask if I am ready to go to a cook-out at their friends house. I love my neighborhood.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Admitting I have a problem

As I was sitting in traffic this morning I saw a Coors Light delivery truck driving the opposite direction on the interstate. I smiled because it was going in the direction of my neighborhood.

Does it mean I have a problem that at 7:40am I was already counting down to my first beer?

Boston Bound

We are gearing up for a work trip to Boston. Most of our vendors are located there and what ones aren't there are traveling with us. It was originally scheduled for late February but got pushed back twice due to work-related hell that came up. Not that the hell has passed but we have to renegotiate our major contract there before a big HR pow-wow in early April.

So, we leave Monday morning on the Acela train. We get to stay at a posh Marriott hotel downtown and we arrive on St. Patrick's Day afternoon. Which means once we check in and get freshened up, we get to go out and party like we're Irish ; ) Our itinerary includes a nice dinner out at some steak restaurant downtown and Formula 1 racing. All of this activity crammed into 3 days because we come home Thursday morning.

Is it sad that the most exciting thing for me isn't on the itinerary because it is that I get a whole king-sized bed to myself with no one to bother me? Ahhhhhhh, I just can't wait!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I COULD be helping but WHY should I??

This is what is happening in my house right now even as I type. We switched out our carpets to hardwood floors last March and are just now doing the stairs. To be fair, we started the pool in June so we didn't have much chance to finish the stairs. But it was well overdue since the nasty blue carpet looked mostly brown due to mud being tracked into the house and various popsicle drippings being carried down to the rec room. Work started at 9am sharp. Sam has a co-worker over to help who only charges us $20 an hour for very labor-intensive work. I could help to speed up the process in someway I'm sure but I have been very busy this morning.

These things will not do themself so I have been hard at work on.......

- Playing Scrabble on Facebook. Did you know this is addictive? Neither did I!! I do now.....

- Rearranged my home office space. This was very important since I am working from home on Monday. (Did you get that I have a 3-day weekend? LOL!)

- Realized that I can't possibly work all day on Monday on the couch with a laptop and wireless mouse so had to go to Staples.

- Went to Staples for a contour lap desk. Boy, is it comfy on my lap and roomy enough for my wireless mouse.

- Picked up Wendy's for the guys. It was a sacrifice but I am a giver and can't fight my nature.

- Answering Sam's cellphone. Holy crap, he is BUSY people!! Everyone knew he was working on this today but they keep calling and bothering me. I have talked to two of his friends and his father. I don't like talking to his father so this is why I am putting this under work.

- Playing Scrabble on Facebook. I am determined to get my rating over 1,700. People can be real snobs on ratings and don't want you to accept their game invitation if you have a ranking under 1,700.

Now if I can figure out how to keep my mouse from sliding off my lap desk sometime before it is time to start drinking, I will consider this day a smashing success!!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another Blonde Moment in My Life

I rarely find humor in my own stupidity but occasionally, I have to stop and laugh at myself. Although I am not a stupid person in general I can be pretty boneheaded at times. In those moments, you would never know I graduated with Honors for a Business Administration degree. Sheesh.

Growing up in the primative 80's we never had a dishwasher. It wasn't until I had my first apartment in San Antonio 13 years ago that I had one. Even though we were in an apartment, I have always waited until everyone showered before running the dishwasher. When we moved to our first house and had a much smaller hot water tank than an apartment building has, I became fanatical about when I would run the dishwasher.

When we remodeled our kitchen last year we replaced our old-as-dirt dishwasher with a fancy-schmancy model. We pulled out the old one and installed it (yes, us amateurs had to install it since Sears has a policy about letting their installers do it if you have copper piping to the dishwasher which we do) after much bickering and slap fights. Yes, I'm exaggerating but it would have felt good after working in too close quarters for far too long with Sam. Dishwasher was installed and everything worked.

About two weeks ago, I was asked a question about the dishwasher and it got me thinking about when we installed it and the events surrounding it (leaky new sink, problems with the height of the dishwasher vs. new granite countertops, etc.) and it occured to me when we were lowering the dishwasher so the countertops could be installed, that the water that leaked as a consequence of the pipes being pushed (everything ties in and this is why Sears doesn't deal with copper pipes) and the river of water that flooded out from underneath the dishwasher until I could get it stopped. The water was cold. Why wasn't it hot if it was going into the dishwasher? Then I remembered REPLACING the water feed from the sink valves (COLD) into the new dishwasher line. So I knew a year ago that the water going into the dishwasher is cold yet I still worried about using all the water in the hot water tank to run a load of dishes? I told you I can be really dense.

This also brings to mind a favorite memory of my mother's that she loves to pull out and tell when we are in a crowded room of people who might be thinking that I am a smart person. It goes back to when I was a small child to when I was growing up. My grandfather used to tell me all the time how special I was to him because I was his favorite granddaughter. I would immediately puff up with pride (my mother's words, not mine) and smile from ear to ear. As SHE tells it, I was 14 years old before she finally got tired of it and said, "Have you not figured out yet that you are his ONLY granddaughter?".

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Why I Love My Job

This is an exact copy of an e-mail I received this morning from my boss. I swear I couldn't make this up if I tried.

From: Him

To: Me and 2 co-workers

Subject: Projects Assignment Party

You are all cordially invited to visit as a Group at 2pm today so that I can assign work, increase your work load and stress level and generally demoralize you with ridiculously short deliverable timeframes.

Look forward to seeing you, and I will send a meeting invite so no one forgets.

Thank you


THIS is why I love my job. I have the coolest department ever.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Father, My Brother, My Son

My dad lived 32 years on this earth. In that short time he was a loved son, brother, father, husband and friend. He was also an avid hunter and served in the US Navy in Cuba during the Vietnam War. Although I was not yet 6 years old when he died, I have memories of him and think of him daily. I spent time as a child wondering how my life would be different with him in it and sometimes think that as an adult. The difference is when I think of him now I don't know that my life would have been better if he had lived. That's not to say that I wouldn't have wanted him in my life. He was an alcoholic and made some poor choices but the truly sad part is that he never got a chance to turn that around and become the man he had the potential to be. I wonder how it would have felt to have my dad there when my heart was broken the first time and when his grandchildren were born. My life was spent wondering what could have been.

My brother is 17 months younger than me and he grew up lost in his world. He didn't have a father to guide and teach him. My grandfather (dad's father) tried to help him and loved him unconditionally but he never tried to replace his son and stuck to the grandfather role. My brother has a heart of gold and would give you anything you asked him for without hesitation. I, on the other hand, was stingy and didn't like to share anything with him. We grew up at odds and didn't want much to do with each other. That's not to say I didn't look out for him but we had so much shared pain that it was hard to lean on each other. Even without our dad in our lives, my brother is my dad's son in every way. He does things to excess including drinking and doesn't think things through before acting. He is probably bi-polar but has never been diagnosed. When he was 19 he did his first "county-sponsored vacation" and has had a hard time breaking the cycle. There were many factors and reasons but, for times sake, I won't go into it. The last "visit" lasted 17 months and he has been out since January 2007. He is the same age right now as our dad was when he died.

All of this brings me to my son. My son is 11 years old and thinks nothing is ever his fault. Everything that happens to him is related back to something or someone else and, in his mind, is not as a result of anything he did. We struggle with getting him to see that his actions are the cause of most of his problems but it is like talking to a wall. There have been many times I have walked away after an arguement with him and muttered my brother's name under my breath because that is exactly what my brother thought as well. But my son is also so caring and would give you the shirt off his back if you asked or he thought you needed it. He loves to shoot his bow and arrows when we visit my mom's in Missouri but would never kill an animal. He loves to torment his sister but is also fiercely protective of her.

In so many ways I see my brother in my son. It is frustrating but also endearing. My brother is so much like my dad and my son has so many of the same qualities of my brother. The habits and mentalities are very similar even though they rarely see each other. Is this a peek at what my dad was like when he was growing up? I know it is similar to my brother when he was growing up. Maybe I am clutching at anything to keep a connection to my dad but in some ways, I think it is his way of letting me know that he will always be with me and to help break the cycle that he never was able to. It is a stretch but I refuse to let my son go through the pain that my father and brother did by accepting and learning from the past and doing everything I can to change the future for him. That's not something that my dad's mother would have been able to or my mother can say.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Day My $80,000 Business Degree Pays Off

Today we are working hard on correcting payroll mistakes. Boss says we need to schedule a meeting with our lawyer to hammer out some details.

Lawyer suggests a working lunch and co-worker and I beg for a great little Mexican restaurant we know.

Boss: "Ok but we really ARE going to be working."

Me: "Fine. But I'll need my reading glasses. MARGARITA glasses that is!!" as I hold imaginary margarita glasses up to my eyes.

All he can do is shake his head and wonder why he ever hired me. I'm smiling and thanking heaven he did ; )

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fourteen things you don't really care to know about me

Inspired (yet again) by my blogger buddy, Heather, I am going to finish a few sentences to give you a peek into my soul.

After six....years of marriage I really wondered what the hell I was doing. I was 28 years old and had a serious crisis. Sam can be very high-maintenance and had started having serious health issues and I really wanted to leave it all.

It doesn't matter....if someone likes you or not. I used to try really hard to make everyone like me but now, I could care less. I adore my friends and would do anything for them but I have learned it is about caring for them and not making them like me more.

In another....ten years I will be 44 years old but I guarantee I won't feel any different mentally than I do today. That is the worst part about growing older. My body ages but I don't feel any wiser.

My mother always said....everything happens for a reason. I hated when she said it because it was supposed to make every rotten thing better but it didn't. Now that I am older I do understand what she was saying and repeat it to myself regularly. I have realized that everything that happens brings me to where I am now and regardless of what has happened, I wouldn't change a thing.

There are times....when I wonder what it is like to be single. I watch my single friends go out to happy hours and girls' get-away weekends and try to console myself with the thought of all the nights they spend alone. It doesn't always work when I am being pushed out of the bed due to sleeping with a steam roller and then I wish I had my own bed.

At the wake....there better be tears. I spent so much of my life flying under the radar due to insecurities that I want everyone to realize how much they will really miss me.

Consideration brings....a sense of peace to me. Whenever I go out of my way to be considerate of others it always makes me feel good. I don't really believe in an after-life so I don't do it for a place next to some mythical big guy in the sky but because it is truly my nature to help others.

In 1986....my life was hell. I was 13 years old and my mom forgot she was a mother to two kids. She started hanging out with some older, partying people who didn't have the same obligations (like kids to cook for) and was constantly gone. My grandfather tried to make her see this but she resented him for it and all they did was fight. She moved us out of his house that year and my life was much worse for it.

Don't laugh but....I love peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. They are so good but everyone I meet always gags or retches at the thought. I have heard of far worse combinations but it never fails that someone has to make a face when I mention this.

Without hesitation....I would do anything for my brother. He has had a really hard life and done some things that got him in quite a bit of trouble but he knows that I am always here. Especially when my mom gave up on him. All he has to do is ask and I will move heaven and earth to do it.

Ordinarily, I never....say never. There are too many situations you can't even imagine to ever say never. Life is too short to limit yourself by saying never and I believe in living your life to the fullest.

I was driving to....work the other day when I realized that I don't dread going there every day. I am so happy with my worklife right now it is ridiculous to me. I have never had so much contentment from a job.

If I ever....win the lotto, I won't live any differently than I do right now. Except I will pay-off all our debt. I am far too simple to live lavishly.

In my mind....everyone is completely equal. I really don't understand how someone can consider themselves any better than someone else because of their skin color, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. What makes THEM so important that they are better? Truly and honestly, I don't get it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why my grandmother thought I was a lesbian

I've lived a lot in my 34 years and I am grateful for all of the experiences, good and bad, because I think they all led to my becoming a kick-ass adult ; ) My family was a bit worried at first considering I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth and then dropped out of college a semester in to pursue a highly successful career in gas station attending. Sadly that career ended when I was questioned at police headquarters under suspicion of robbing the joint while my best friend was working on my night off. They figured it had to be two dumb blondes that thought up the brilliant scheme of taping her hands togther in front of her and then locking her in the bathroom. Which locked from the inside. Of course I had nothing to do with it since I was sitting at home on my one night off watching a Lifetime movie with my mom. To say I was pathetic is an understatement.

One day while pondering my future a recruiter called out of the blue to see if I was still interested in the Army. I had shown an interest in it when I was in high school because, well, face it. My options were limited in Cowtown, Missouri where I grew up. So I said sure I was still interested and waited until he showed up in person to mention that I was about.....oh, 50 pounds too heavy to join. He was nice (and super hot) and the recruiting numbers must have been low because he kept in touch. I wound up losing around 70 pounds to join up so off I went to sign-up in Kansas City. My family was very proud of me because I was going to "Be All I Could Be" and not only because I was finally getting out of my mom's house where I begged for beer and cigarette money on a regular basis.

I called my grandmother breathless to say I had finally accomplished what I had worked so hard for and barely had a chance to say "I joined the Army!" when she went completely silent. When she spoke, it was quick and to the point. "So I guess this means we were right and you really are a lesbian, huh?". Blow ME over with a feather cause where the hell would she get that idea? Maybe I didn't date boys regularly (or ever) but that was their choice not mine. I answered that I didn't think I was but that could change after I had a chance to see all those naked ladies in the shower for 8 weeks of Basic Training.

I never did become a lesbian but I did take up the habit of calling all my friends 'my girlfriends' when I would call or write and even call Sam by a girl name to this day. Funny thing is that she has never met him so I'm not entirely sure she believes me that he is a man ; )

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My three wishes

We were drinking over at the neighbor's house Friday night. They have their garage turned into a bar complete with satellite television and neon signs. If you don't get too drunk to run into the Jeep parked in there when you leave, it was a good night.

So we're drinking and chatting and someone brings up what you would choose if you could have three wishes. We were taking turns telling what our wishes would be and I, of course, froze. I'm never good at spontaneous things like that. My neighbor (one of the funniest people I know) wishes to spend more time with the kids, have a beach house as a second home~which is where his wife jumped in and said if she got her wish of a million bucks he wouldn't have to waste his wish on this because she was buying it. This led to a brief tirade from him about how she will not leave this area because her whole family is here and she agreed that she won't leave until her family is all gone. My neighbor turns and says with the straightest of faces, "And that would be my third wish."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

When I die, I know what hell will look like.....

One of the things we humans all have in common is the thoughts we have put into wondering what happens to us when we die. Maybe we spent nights as a child praying for forgiveness so we wouldn't wind up with that awful devil that parents and preachers spent so much time getting us to fear. It is one thing that no one can answer and we are all left to imagine where we will end up once our time on this earth is done. While not absolutely 100% certain, I am pretty sure after today I know what hell looks like. A knock-off Chuck E. Cheese.

Our daughter was invited there for a birthday party for the next door neighbor's daughter. It is a pretty cool place for a local joint considering we are in a small town. During the summertime they have go-carts, bumper boats, paintball, putt putt golf and a small roller coaster. Best part is it is 5 minutes from our house. During the summertime you never really venture inside except to get drinks, pretzels and load back up your card with credits. Wintertime? The outdoor stuff is closed down and you are forced inside into the Chuck E. Cheese style gallery with the noisy games, rockwall and laser tag.

Let me tell you, it is the bowels of hell. The noise alone makes you want to pull your own eyelashes out for a distraction. The obnoxious offspring of completely idiotic parents make you wish they served booze. Your own obnoxious offspring running from game to game shoving tickets at you to hold and whining when the tokens/credits run out? Enough to make you wish you could still take kids to the bathroom for a good old butt kicking without fear of the cops hauling you out of there in handcuffs. Then you get to feed the machine that counts all of their tickets up and it is guaranteed that at least half of the machines will be broken so you have to wait behind that one kid who feeds the machine one. ticket. at. a. time. UGH!!! Of course then you get to follow that same kid to the counter where he/she spends an incredibly ridiculous amount of time selecting his prizes. But then it gets SO much better. Now you get to explain to your own child how many points they have and what they can get for that amount. Then they select something that they don't have enough tickets for and you explain this in a sweet voice and ask if could they please move down to the side where the lower-priced prizes are easier to see?

After they go through 50 different scenarios and still haven't picked anything, you find yourself walking away from the counter while they demand to know why they didn't get to pick anything. With gritted teeth you snap that it is because they couldn't decide from anything they could actually get and that if it is that hard they should hold onto them and wait until next time when they can get something they really want. Their little eyes beg and implore you to go back so you turn around to get back on line. Only to find that same kid from the ticket-counting machine again who is picking 5-ticket prizes with like 500 total tickets.

Yes, when I die I am going to hell and THIS will be where I will have to spend it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Score One for the Wind

I must have looked like the biggest idiot yesterday. With the best of intentions to get those pesky leaves out of the backyard, I went outside all bundled up in my Lands End winter shoes and a nice pullover fleece sweatshirt. I told Sam that I was bound and determined to get them out of there so our pool area doesn't look so abandoned. He smiled and said "You know it's really cold and windy outside. It would probably be easier to wait until another day." Being the biggest procrastinator I have ever known, there was no way I was going to take advice from him on this. He was nice enough to shut the door when it slammed back open from the wind as I threw my body out into the artic blast that was moving in yesterday.

The instant I stepped out I wanted to go back in. My eyes were instantly watering and my fingers went numb before I took a step. However, I was committed to getting ALL those leaves out of there and not proving Sam right that it was not the day for this task. I started with securing two pool rafts that were laying out in the open. Next I picked up everything that has blown into our yard but not back out due to the fence. I took the chairs into the shed. By this time, every part of my body was numb and my face felt like hot lava followed by an ice tray had been thrown into it. But I refused to give Sam the satisfaction of winning. Don't think I didn't notice him checking on my progress from the warmth of the house with his shoulders heaving up and down.

After I had raked several piles of leaves off the pool decking and down the side of the hill, I went back for bags. They were only on the side of the house but as I made my way back I was greeted by a leaf shower as they blew back UP the hill where they came from. Thoroughly frustrated I considered grabbing the riding lawnmower and driving it right over those leaves to chomp them down to glitter. Then I considered the agony of sitting atop a huge pile of leaves with the lawnmower stuck. No matter how I played it in my head the ending was not good so I nixed that idea. I left the gates open hoping the wind would blow the leaves right out into the front yard. I imagined I would run out with this horrified look on my face as the leaves blew into all of the neighbor's yards and pretend I was upset it happened. The reality is the stupid leaves were too wet to blow much of anywhere except back where they started.

I got one bag filled as I struggled to keep it from tipping over in the wind. When it was full and tied up I walked it out front to the garage. On my way back I was again showered with leaves as the wind increased and then I noticed the area where I had just been working was exactly as it was before I started this adventure. This seemed like the perfect time to Sam to come out and report that the neighbor's sandbag weighted basketball hoop just blew over. Since it was now a matter of my personal safety I trudged back around the deck and into the house. As I passed Sam I told him if he knew what was good for him he would not let that smile on his face turn into a laugh. He chose instead to point out that the leaves I had raked had already returned. I chose that moment to beat him with a rake before making a really stiff drink. That was the hardest 30 minutes of work I have done lately.