Saturday, December 13, 2008

Time For a Facelift

I haven't done a darn thing with this blog in nearly two months.

I keep meaning to, and then I just get ...sidetracked, I suppose.

Tens of thousands of brilliant ( or at least I think they are ) rants and random thoughts, gone unpublished.

Well, no more.

New look, new sound and I assure you, new posts in the not too distant future.

For now, this is it. In the meantime, you can minimize the page and enjoy my playlist, because admit it, P!nk is fucking awesome. ( so much so, that you just don't censor a gesture like that )


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making strides

While conferences were a nightmare ( moreso due to Braeden than Iain; that kid just can't stay in his seat ), I cannot help but sit back and smile when I see Iain.

That kid has come so far since school started in September. He knows over half of his letters on sight now ( versus two in August ), a handful of numbers ( none in August ) and he's soaking up the learning process like mad.

He's still way behind, and we have a long way to go before he'll be even close to caught up, but he's a bright kid, and eager to learn. Once the data gets in there, it sticks and he runs with it.

Walking club wrapped up yesterday, until Spring. Bubba came in with a third foot on his bracelet ( every time they walk a mile / fill their punch card, they get a little plastic foot ), fourth card punched twice and grinning like a toothy jack-o-lantern.

Pretty impressive considering that they only walk one day a week for half an hour.

Being the sourpuss snot that she can be, Jennah had to point out that Harrison ( a classmate of hers ) had four feet and a fifth card.. to which I reminded her that Harrison is a full three years older and three grades higher than Iain, so he should be doing better, and that by third grade, if Iain continues to do so well, he'll have a better record than the one currently held by said althetic and entusiastic young man ( no offense to the boy intended. I rather like the kid, and his mom ).

Steal Iain's thunder be damned.

I generally let that stuff go because Iain doesn't mind, but it felt like a situation that needed some minor defending. A grateful smile confirmed that Mom's interfering was the right thing to do.

There is homework everyday now, and once Bub grasps what he needs to do, he's finished in minutes and on to the next task.
Watching that happen... seeing him recognize words and attempt to read from memory from his weekly books... it's just so cool. Three years ago we started bracing ourselves for the expense of tutors and the rigors of special education, working with him as much as he could handle without causing a sensory overload, hoping and praying that even a fraction of what we were doing would take hold, and that at some evental point, that kid would be able to function on a semi-normal level.

The other day, we were going through his sight word list, and out of the blue he pointed at a word and said "That's 'like', Momma." closed his eyed and spelled "L-I-K-E" and I almost bawled. He'd never done that before. It took a combined effort from his teachers, Chris and myself, over a school year, for him to spell and recognize his first name. Other words have never been an option before now.

I'm pretty sure that the rest of the night would've sucked on average... dinner came out wrong, and I think that kids were put in time out. But it didn't matter. Not to me.
I was too busy being on a success high. Iain was so proud of himself, but nearly as proud as I was of him.

Now that I am older and wiser ( and have spent countless hours beating my head into the wall, sobbing in frustration and pouring over books and websites looking for anwsers ), I realize that some of the things that Iain's disability has fostered within him are some of the things that make him wonderful.

Even on his worst day, that child is so full of compassion. He'll stop whatever he's doing to help someone else. Cheerfully, without complaint, and always sympathetic to the other person's situation. Being helpful makes him happy, even if it is frustrating ( for others, as well as himself ) when he has a melt down because he wants so badly to help, but the aid just isn't needed right at that moment.

His strength - both physically and mentally - is amazing. I don't think that any of us would've done as well as we have without his unyielding resilience. Some days it drives me up a wall, but others days, it's the only drive that I have.

It's doubtful that school will ever come as easily for Iain as it does for his sister. Studious and serious, Jennah is exceptional. She'll go as far as she allows herself to, and accomplish great things.
Nor will he have the charisma or the ease that comes so naturally for Braedy. Whatever is not attained through ready absorption ( Braeden has always been far above average and a very quick learner ), he'll coast through based on his charm and witty demeanor - something is already causing some issues for us, both at school and in everyday activities.

Iain is awesome in his own way. Eager and in his own time, affectionate, his smile lights up the room. It isn't easily earned, though he is always friendly, and when Iain learns to like you, it feels like a gift from God himself.
Someday he will build great things with those busy little hands, and I hope that he continues to be as kind when he's forty as he is at age six.

No mother has a favorite ( or at least they shouldn't ), but no matter how angry I get, no matter how frustrated I become, even if it's with him, I'm a sucker for that kid.

Thankfully he doesn't know it... or rather, he doesn't use it. He's too humble for that.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I can't wait to see what sort of goofball face Iain will pull when I ask him to hold still for the camera and smile. He'll be the most cockeyed pirate in the parade, and I'll love him that much more for it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wrapping up round 2 ( days 27 - 29 )

Thursday and Friday were all about the flea market.
I did last minute marketing, baking and spent several hours on overall assmebly that were not originally on my agenda, but the coordinator was left in the lurch, and without Chris and I lending a hand, she'd have been sunk ( one person cannot assemble an entire event alone ).

Add in working on our quarterly reports, and it was a busy thirty six hour run.

Most of the time that I spent on the project was my time, not on the clock.
But I didn't want to leave my co-worker in the lurch... it wasn't fair to stick her with 90% of the work just because our boss couldn't be bothered to deal with this.

But I digress a bit.
When I got to the school on Friday, I stopped in the office to give Cara the Breast Cancer Awareness / support bag that I made for her.

I got a hug!! Yay!

Cara is not a physical contact person. She's a very reserved but sweet gal. But in spite of this, I think that the whole teary eyed display that she made... well, I'm not usually a huggy person, either ( unless I'm drunk. Then watch out! ), but it made my day.
Finished and delivered just in time for it to be utililized at the BCA walk this weekend.

The first half of Saturday was spent at the flea market.
We did make a little bit of money, which was a bonus, but it alos turned out to be an opportunity to give. I expected my husband to flinch and gripe, but he just shugged and verbalized what I felt about the issue - the folks that we interacted with and sent home clothing and other things needed those things a lot more than we needed the money.

I saw parents there who I know from events, but I don't see day to day in the building, and people who I knew from way back when that didn't even realize were parents in the school ( I don't have any interaction with the middle school side of the building ), which was kind of fun.

In the end, we came home with four empty totes, and a feeling of accomplishment.
The hope for the day was to make about $30 more than we did, and we probably could have if we'd stopped giving things away and actually charged what we put on the price tags ( which wasn't very much to begin with - I'm a stickler about that. I hate the idea of ripping people off ), but it felt better to do it the way that we did.
It just means that new boots for Chris for the winter have to wait two more weeks.
So be it.

Wrapping up the evening was a bit of R'n'R for us. We met some friends for dinner. Probably shouldn't have, due to our budget being pretty tight right now, but getting together with this couple takes month of planning most of the time. Cancelling would've meant not seeing them as a couple until Christmas.
We came home, brough the sitter home, and I resolved not got get out of bed in the morning until I was done sleeping.
I usually force myself to get up and function, just to make breakfast and do some laundry.
Not today. However, it meant that breakfast was more like a late lunch ( thank heaven my daughter can manage pop tarts in a pinch! ), because it was after noon when I finally crawled out from under my blankets.
Running on four to five hours of sleep per night, all week long, caught up with me, and I crashed. Hard. I guess I needed it, though, because I don't usually sleep that long, even when I'm sick.

This sort of lumps Thursday, Friday and Saturday together, but that is truly how they were.
Lumped together and in constant motion....and now I am headed back to bed, because in spite of my super nap, my body's clock says that it's sleepy time.

I'm taking a break for a week or so before I start round three. I know that I won't have time to blog all week, and I'd hate to only half commit to the project.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Round 2, Days 24, 25 and 26

Day 23 didn't quite go how I wanted it to.
I was clipping along with getting both my chores and Chris's done, and about to strip from my cleaning srubs and slide to Wal Mart to pick up my meds, when my phone rang.
My mother in law needed her hair colored. So I spent the next couple of hours on that instead. Still a give, just not the give I was aiming to complete.

Day 24:
Turned out to be a give for me.
I've been burning the candle at both ends to an extreme, and my immune system finally took a giant crap on me. My sinuses were so back up that my face was visibly swollen, bright red and my neck, jaw and shoulder hurt.
So, I finished up a project that my boss asked me to do, and under her order, went home and went to bed ( after I picked up the prescription that I didn't get to the day before ).
I slept for nearly five hours, ended up missing our annual meeting, and was back in bed for the night for another six hours.
I hated just taking a day off and crashing, but it was needed very badly.
I still feel pretty lousy as I sit here and click away, but it's not nearly as badly as I felt on Monday.

On that note, my sojourn to Ohio proved to me just how awful living in Michigan is for my immune system.
I could breathe the entire time I was there, only sneezed ONCE ( in October that is unheard of for me! ), and didn't even snore.
I could, of course, attribute the latter to barely sleeping, but anyone who has camped out with me, be it away from home or in mine, knows I snore. Loudly.
Thus, this also fuels my theory that my sleep apnea is at least somewhat connected to my constant state of allergic misery.

As much as I NEVER, EVER, EVER want to live in Ohio, I am now staunch in my belief that I need to reside someplace else.
If I have to travel around to find somewhere that isn't too hot for Chris to endure it in the summer months, and will allow me to feel less rotten on a day to day basis, so be it.And if that someplace did turn out to be Ohio.... well, at least it isn't Maryland. I hated Maryland even more than I dislike Ohio.

Day 25:
I wrapped presents!
I am in a swap where we have to buy $15 worth of specific theme goodies. I cannot say what the theme is, because there's a chance that my recipient might read the crosspost on my Blogspot page, but I've spent my pennies well, made some goodies, and wrapped everything in coordinated paper ( now there's a hint for ya! ).
I also worked on handmade ornaments and chatted with the friend who was the recipent from Thursday ( the Vegas weekend ), and was pleased to hear what a wonderful time she had.

In between wrapping gifts and making dinner, I whipped up a Breast Cancer Awareness bag for a friend. An SCS friend loaned me an awesome BCA stamp set and ( made by My Favorite Things - check it out! ) I had it finished in no time.
I'll be making a bottle of lotion and some bath salts... throwing in a bag of sugar free candy and some trail mix and bringing that to her on Friday when I go set up for the flea market.

As part of my flea market project, I purged some scrap / craft supplies that were unopened, and retired them from my stash. As I did that, I pulled more stuff for the precshool, and put it in the bag and box in my trunk.

I made dinner, but it flopped ( something didn't taste right which leads me to believe that my baking emulsifer soured.. YUCK ), printed up some Hobby Lobby coupons and cut into my hobby budget to let Chris get some paints for his Star Wars guys.

And as a wrap up, spent a chunk of the evening tending to a sick kid. Jennah got sick on the bus, so she was miserable from the time she walked in the door, right up until bedtime ( and is still unwell ).

Day 26 ( today):
I'll be aiding at the last of our community cleanups for 2008.
We were able to remove almost SEVEN TONS OF TRASH from our neighborhood at the least Dumpster Day. Hopefully we'll be just as successful this time.
There's an evident lower volume of overall garbage everywhere that is partially contributed to the last clean up... hopefully with this one, our target area will remain clean for the rest of the year, and we can start over anew with the Spring thaw.

Around that, I'll FINALLY be taking stuff over the the preschool. I meant to tote it there on Monday, because we use their facility for the annual meeting, but as I missed it, I'll be making an extra trip today.
It will be nice to see everyone for a few minutes. I've missed that staff terribly.Initially I'd planned to give more of my time there during the school year, but it just hasn't happened that way. Too much to do in too many other directions.

Between those things and tending to a sick kid, my day will be pretty darn full.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get to tending to those things!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Round 2, Days 17 - 23

It's been a week already. Another week of not sitting still. Heck, for nearly 48 hours I didn't even have access to a computer or anything that remotely resembled internet to post if I'd wanted to.
Lets see if I can summarize my week, day by day, without this getting too lengthy.

helped a neighbor move some furniture and trimmed bushes for the senior across the street.

Worked on treat bags for the kids to bring to school for Halloween.
Had a meeting that I couldn't miss that conflicted with a something that Chris could miss, but didn't want to. Mine didn't have kid accomodations but his was "no kids" period, so they came with me, and I wrangled dinner for everyone before Chris even got home.
Trying to facilitate a meeting with three kids in tow isn't easy, but we managed, and Chris was grateful for the time away, plus he got to see some work friends who he hadn't bumped into since leaving his last conractor.

Took a trunk full of donations to the women and children's outreach center in my downtown community.
Made some holiday cards that I'll be taking to the senior apartment complex that my Aunt lives in, for the residents to use, because many of them cannot afford the extras like sending cards to family and friends at Christmas.

Was supposed to be my day off. Ha!
I had a market test at a facility that was minutes away from Chris's job site... which is also just a few minutes away from a Krispy Kreme.
Chris's absolute favorites are their original glazed donuts, so I picked up some and put them on the front seat of the car, making sure to lock the doors ( so that the watching and darn near salvating nearby fellas in hard hats didn't swipe the snacks ), and send him a text, telling him to check the car at lunch, simply saying that I left something there for him.

When I got home, I phoned a friend and chatted with her as I was prepping for a something that was later in the evening.
As we were talking, she said that due to an unforseen issue, she and her husband would be only bringing food from home and eating in their suite for their weekend in Vegas.
The trip wasn't a vacation to being with ( wedding ) and they were incurring expnses due a mooching family member.
So I did some online research and sent her some cash to get dinner, via Pay Pal.
Wouldn't cover the most expensive buffets on the strip, but it was enough that after Pay Pal deducted their fees, she and her husband would be able to duck out and grab dinner, without having enough funds left over to have to pay for the mooching family member, too ( thus, and automatic excuse to get out of her food bill, AND to get some alone time ).

My friend would NEVER, EVER, EVER dream of asking me for even a loan for such a thing ( we discuss bills and stuff, and she's just NOT a mooch anyhow ), and I was worried that she'd be upset when I did it ( I didn't tell her - she found out when after we'd hung up and she'd ran some errands, there was a funds payment email from PayPal. Had I warned her she'd have adamantly refused ), but she got over it, and promised to go out for a couple of hours and have a little fun.

Was a blur. Worked in the morning, took a couple of hours off in the afternoon to chaperone and drive for a field trip to a pumpkin patch / orchard with the boys.

Before I departed for all of that, I was talking to Marie ( for those who read this and do not know her, she's been my best friend since we were kids ) and she mentioned that her mom would need to call in sick and a day's pay to tag along with her to Ohio for the weekend.

Marie's daughter is part of the rowing crew at her high school, and they had a meet, roughly five hours from home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio.
Marie's health isn't good... she has DVT and a slew of connected issues and has been having problems with her counts ( blood ) so she cannot be left along right now... so going without a car buddy was NOT an option.
So I talked to Ward, and in spite of an arguement ensuing from the trip, I went, and it ended up being a give for both of us. Lots of time in the car, but we've road tripped so many times that we just travel well together.
Took TONS of photos, and I love her kid like she was my own, so seeing her out there on the water was pretty darn cool.
We drove out on Friday evening, did the event on Satuday, plus drove around Columbus in between races, and had a great time.

Chris headed north to go sight in his rifle and walk the land where they planned to hunt, and I'll be spending the day "playing Ward".
It was in the plans for the weekend before I added Ohio into the mix. I get to cook, clean, fix, and run errands and do "Ward stuff" that I told him I'd cover so that he'd have the free time to get up there and do this today.
It doesn't sound like much, but if you saw the mess in my dining room and living room, you'd think otherwise. I have at least three hours worth of my own mandatory crud to get done around hadling his chores, too. PLUS the unpacking and extra laundry from the weekend.

Speaking of... I'd better get to it!I'll try to be better about posting in the coming week... life can slow down, just a little, any day now!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Round 2, Day 16

Today's give was volunteerism.

I spent the afternoon putting up lawn signs for the Democratic dandidate for our district's House of Represenatives seat. Fifty lawn signs, based on a list and map generated by his campaign team.
It was kind of nice, actually. Everyone else worked in pairs or three in a group. I took one of the two largest lists ( the other was fifty also, and given to a team of three ) and went out on my own.
City map in hand, and armed with knowledge of the area, I was done faster than almost half of the group, and there were more of them with less addresses to cover.
Working independently and fliering for work comes in handy sometimes... plus it gave me two hours to just drive and shuffle about, and occasionally interact with residents that I don't otherwise see because they're not in our target area.

I'm honestly not even sure that I'll vote for him... when he was on the City Commission it was an an Independent, but as I was putting up signs, I saw that most of his supporting constituents also had McCain / Palin signs in their yard.

But Roy is a nice guy, I like him, and I like his son, so I did it as a favor to them both.

Before I decide whether or not I'll blacken the dot next to his name on the ballot, I need to do some additional research. Thankfully I have a bit of time to do so, and it's one of the only two things on the ballot that I am currently undecided about.

Voting preferences aside, it was worth the effort.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Days 11 - 15 ( or "where the heck did my week go??" )

I've sat down to blog three times this week, and all three times I had to get up and go do something before I was even halfway finished.

Rather than give a day by day, because that would take volumes, I'll offer up a summary.

This week I:
- Cooked food for 100+ people
- Did all of the shopping and prep work for said event
- Mailed out six random packages of stuff to six people, who I feel will better benefit from said
items than I have they'll be surprised when said packages arrive, which for me is the best
part! )
- brought a slew of clothing to a homeless shelter- took a day off from work to make holiday
ornaments, and endedup making an extra two dozen to bring to aretirement facility
- spent three hours on the phone with a friend ( and sucked up a ton of my cell minutes for the
rest of the month ) who needed some moral support and a sympathetic ear
- sent 'just because' cards to some folks.... just because.
- bought some small things for my husband, because food and toys make him happiest
- made dinner for my newly no longer a jailbird kid brother, including buying stuff to make a
sweet potato pie ( something I haven't done since the last Thanksgiving we did with my
mother.. which was in 2004 )

Add in work, school committments and family time, and that explains why I haven't been able to blog. The intent has been there, and the actions are going at full speed, but the ability to slow down and evaluate and report.... not so much.
I'd like to say that things will be slowing down in the coming weeks, but they won't. I have a seven week committment to the school district that will commence on Thursday, but at least that'll only be on Thursdays.Other than this week, anyhow. This week will have training and last minute warm up exercises before we begin.
A new week. More giving, going and doing. It's a bit frantic right now, but it still feels good.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Round 2, Days 8 - 10

...don't think that because I haven't blogged, that I haven't been giving.

I've been so busy that I haven't had the free time to sit still and blog!

Day 8 ( Saturday ):
Friday's heft and haul of office furniture ended up being a long day. So I laid low for part of Saturday, ended up missing the Clinton rally, and initially decided that I was not going to do a darn thing that wasn't enjoyable.
I ached. A good, healthy ache, but an ache nonetheless.
Marie ( my best friend since I was in upper elementary school, for those who don't know her ) came by and she helped me finish up a project that I needed to get out the door ( a receive ), and from there we goofed around, ran some errands and I managed to sweet talk her daughter into babysitting in exchange for buying a book for her.

But it wasn't all R&R. The three of us ( Meems and I, plus Ward ) showed up for my office fundraiser and ended up staying to tear everything down - a give, with recruits! After I saying I wasn't lfting another finger for work crap all weekend.... well, I'm a sucker, but it needed to be done.

Day 9 ( Sunday ):
Did a slew of ad submissions for the school flea market, and worked on holiday gift crafts.

With much disappointment, I cancelled my events for the coming Thursday. I wa sso hoping to actually meet Neil Gaiman at the book signing. Driving all the way to a Chicago suburb for a pre-signed book and no interaction... forget it.

And so I focused of more purging to distract me; some into the trash, some into the 'sell' pile and some into the mess of stuff for the preschool.

Chris, Iain and I also worked on the back yard. Chris took down several small branches earlier last week, and we spent a chunk of Sunday afternoon on clean up.
I bundled up branches while Iain picked up the leaves and Chris tore down even more branches for me to bundle up, and swept the roof. A lot of work, but we had fun doing it.
Chris found a way to turn that into a give - he cleaned up branches from a tree ( that is not even our tree, but some of the overhang was touching our house and would soon be damaging our shingles... said tree owner's response to the problem was "if you want it fixed, chop away. I don't care but I'm hot helping!" so chop away we did ) that were damaging another neighbor's fence, and made arrangements with him to help remove more of the branches over the coming weekend.

It'll all go out in our brush pile ( which we have to pay to remove via city brush tags and leaf bags ), but better that we pay for it than it take up space and look awful in the neighbor's yard. We helped him remove several lengthy branches two years ago and they are STILL in his backyard, now a haven for skunk and whatever else decides to nest there and draw vermin to our block. Yuck.
A give for the neighbor, and for the rest of our side of the street, so that we're not all further invaded by nuisance critters due to one peron's lazy ineptitude ( I am not overly fond of said neighbor. It's because of him that we have to faithfull and vigorously mainatin a boric acid perimeter around our house. They have roaches so badly that you can sometimes see them crawling in the curtains... ewwwwww ).

Day 10 ( Monday ):
Worked all day, and worked on coloring book packets for the Harvest Festival.
I printed them off on Friday, but still had to touch up the site codes with white out ( I'll give credit to the links on the back page, but kids don't wanna color corn and pumpkins with a passel of weblinks on the paper ).
After I got home, I made stuffed green peppers for the family ( and stuffed calzone style sandwiches that sucked. The dough I bought was too easily soggy ).When dinner was wrapped up, I made a half a dozen or so bookmarks for Santa Claus Inc. ( ) that will be sent to an SCS friend who is helping with the program.

I'd been putting off working on the bookmarks, and had purchased several that I've found on clearance for ten to fifty cents apiece, but last night I had a really good time tinkering with some previously unused stamps. Fairies and fall leaf splendor came to life as I inked and colored.Hopefully the recipient kids like them as much I as do.
It's still too early on Tuesday to determine what the day will hold... but I'm sure it'll be busy and worthwhile.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Round 2, Days 5 and 6

It's been one heck of a day, so this post will be very brief.

Day 5 ( Thursday ):
I worked on gifts for my kids' pen pals. I've been so busy that I just haven't had time to complete everything I set out to do at the beginning of September ( and back to school was supposed to mean more free time... ha! ).

I also sat in as a mentor for a parent meeting to help a neighborhood school get an effective parent ground as well as a PTS / PTO up and running. Their building desperately needs it ( really, what school doesn't? but there's is in rough shape and could easily decline at a rapid speed ).

Form there it was home to half a dinner and do some crafting ( gifts for xmas ) and watch ER.

Day 6 ( Friday ):
I donated four hours of my time, the loan of my debit card ( I wrote myself a reimbursement check ) and my strength to move a slew of donated office furniture.

My co-worker Jane, our board VP and myself did the loading and Jane's family and my brother in law, Jeff, came hand helped unload ( went MUCH faster! ).

I'm tired, but it's a good tired. I needed that workout.

Now I have scoured all the sweat and ick from my hide and we'll soon be departing for the school carnival.
An expense that isn't really in the budget, but it's worth it for the family time. My gift to my kiddos for doing so well at home and trying very hard at school ( for Jennah that part is easy... the boys... not so much ).

Have a wonderful night, all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Round 2, Day 4

Nothing about today went as I'd originally planned. And I am 100% okay with that.

My give for the day was in the form of information, support and compassion.

Miss J needed some labwork done and Chris has taken ill, so it was two visits to the doctor for the price ( of gas ) for one.Chris went his own way and I went in with Jennah.

As it turned out, my apparel choice ( my Free The West Memphis Three t-shirt ), would spark many a query, starting with the gal who was shadowing my physician for the day.

After asking and my explaining, my doctor ( a tiny, almost hippiesh woman with a massive heads of gray and coal black loose curls and an infectious smile ) chimed in about John Grisham's novel and the recent updates with the court case.
I left feeling a bit more impressed with my crazy hippie lady physician, and pleased that I'd managed to get one more person to check out the WM3 website and possibly become a supporter.

But it didn't stop there. Two women in Sam's Club ( the little old ladies who do the food sample demos ) stopped me and both asked ample questions ( and neither took the stance of the prosecution! ), and the guy at the post office counter, Mitch, who I often BS with when it's slow, kept me there a good extra fifteen minutes, spouting off about how backwards and rude Arkansas is ( he's a Harley rider and has been for forty odd years; he's been subject to a good deal of ridicule and rude behavior over his chouce of relaxation ).

He said he'd check out the website and thanked me for the information.

West Michigan has almost no West Memphis Three supporters. If I gained for them even one more, it was worth it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Round 2, Days 2 and 3

Day 2 ( Monday) :
For the first time in over a decade, I made chicken parmesan.

Doesn't sound like much, I'm sure, but for me, it was a big deal.

After a full day at work, and knowing that I would be darting out the door to a PTSA meeting, I had a less than two hours window to create a dish from scratch and have it hot on the table for a family dinner before I departed for the evening.

It worked, and everyone loved it.

From there, it was on to the PTSA meeting. Being part of a very driven, insanely motivated core network of parents and family members is both wonderful and overwhelming.
There was much to be discussed and much that needs to be done. In the midst of it, I agreed to loan my fog machine and some rather pricy and fairly hi-tech Halloween decorations to a parent in our building, who is the regional coordinator for the RIF program.

From those who aren't aware, our esteemed Chief of Staff ( ha! ) cut the RIF funding by 100% for the 2009 budget. Thus, the RIF program is holding as many fundraisers as they can, and since I support the initiative, I figure that I can part with my things for 48 hours.It's risky, and if something gets damaged, I'm S.O.L., but I have faith in Becca's ability to return everything unscathed.

...and I almost forgot...

I was planning to leave work an hour early so that I didn't have to rush home and scramble to cook, when my boss threw a resident at me because she didn't feel like dealing with said person.
I was beyond annoyed but I told my co-wroker to send her up anyhow, and went to work.
Said woman was in need of some things... food, furniture... she'd been part of a bad situation and was getting ran around in circles. And for added measure, she was without a acr to get her where she needed to go.
So I made some calls ( beyond my contract; we DO NOT do anything that resembles social work ) and helped connect her with a food basket at a location that had turned her away earlier in the day, because they'd hit their daily capacity. But she had no way to pick up said food, so I volunteered to take her.

Before you say 'awww' and feel really bad for this woman, let me continue.

Doing what I do, you learn the discern the truly unfortunate from the leeches. This woman was most definitely a leech. On the way to get said food basket, all she did was complain about how none of the other places she'd hit up gave her much stuff ( didn't they understand what she was going through? ) , and when she saw the quanitity on the cart that was waiting inside the door, another rant of ingratitude immediately started.

I bit my tongue and turned the car around in the direction of her apartment.

Then, less than two minutes into the five minute drive, said woman was asking for rides to other places, and asking if we could find money for her through any programs.
Again, my tongue was held, and I explained to her the value of notifying her childrens' school and the avenues she needed to travel next.

It took a great deal of my best game face mom patience to not call her a lazy leech and tell her to get the hell out of my car.But I didn't, and I know that I am the better person for it.

However, I know that when she walks into my office again, she won't receive that much sympathy. She got her free pass.

Day 3 ( Tuesday ):
Because I was asked, yes, I DID get the day to myself.

I didn't get to sit home on my duff in my jammies, but I still enjoyed myself.
Before I made it back home, I spent an hour, still at the bus stop, talking with some parents, explaining some things to them that needed clarification, and went over some things that we'll be discussing at the parent meeting ( I'm mentoring their PAL program until they can fly on their own ).
From there, I spent the afternoon, schlepping about with Marie. Craft stores galore, one necessary but brief errand that was literally on the way, a yummy lunch and no major responsibilities.
When I got home, I networked between our Board VP, a wonderful woman whose company is donating much needed cublicles, desks and lighting to our offfice. It took some finagling, but I think it'll be great in the end.

Before I call it a night, I'll be packing up some goodies to send out the door tomorrow via US Mail. Hopefully they'll be enjoyed by the recipients.

A bit on the anti-climactic side, but there you have it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Orchard Madness ( or, what we did with our Saturday, pt. 1 )

It's that time of year.

The dock, boat and launch come in, and the weatherization maneuvers come out.

This year, instead of trying to do it themselves, or just sending Chris, a family day was made of it. Four people was bound to make things move swiftly ( which it did ) and from there, it was to be back out of the water and headed East ( I think? I am, after all, directionally challenged ) to an orchard that Ward and I had never made a sojourn to.

We make an annual event of it at a place closer to home, but it lacks the gimmicks. The only family friendly features that are offered are an overpriced wagon ride and a slide attached to an old apple wagon.

Anderson's was very much NOT that. The kids, as you are about to see, had a blast.

Our first stop was to the pony rides. The boys hadn't been that close to a horse, save for petting an occasional nose, so they were excited.

Braeden had some issues with the dreaded ass - saddle battle, but he had a good time.

Iain, however, must've been a cowpoke in a previous life, because he mounted and rode like a champ.

Bruce Campbell would've been proud. And envious.

From there it was on to the barnyard and what I referred to as Goat Central. Fat, spoiled creatures, finely skilled in the art of mooching.

Braeden worked the pulley...

...and this guy, on the other end, and about 15 feet up, waited patiently for his chow.

Jennah just had to feed the zebra. I think she was more excited about that one simple animal than about the whole day itself. Two dollars worth of feed later and the little fella decided that maybe he's lost interest... until someone else came along with a handful of pellets.

I don't know where she gets it from, this innate urge to be one with nature. We're city people. We've never owned any strange, exotic pets ( unless you count an unusually large and cranky cat ), nor have we spent an inordinate amount of time in a farm-like setting.

Yet, somehow, long before we had her in a thematic school setting, Jennah has felt compelled to collect frogs, rescue turtles and just generally love up on God's small creatures.
We called her Elmira for years, because she had no concept of the notion that she was possibly over loving whatever she'd had her heart set on keeping that particular week.

Now she's older, and she understands what is an acceptable degree of affection displayed towards the critters ( not that it stops her from clutching poor Dinah to her chest in a bear hug and mauling her with snuggles.
We doubt that Dinah-saur minds it too terribly much. They seem to have an understanding. )

While the boys did enjoy the experience, Jennah actually learned from it, and asked a lot of very intelligent questions.

No big shock that I had to literally pry her away from the animal pens. Between the zebra and the reindeer ( which I sadly, did not get any photos of ), she didn't want to do anything but play with the her new four legged buddies.

But pry her away I did, and after much chasing, we started to move on....

Continued in pt. 2

Orchard Madness ( or what we did with our Saturday, pt. 2 )

After what felt like an eternity of feeding the critters and fussing over the baby animals, we rounded up the rugrats, scrubbed off the animal slobber as best as we could at the washing station, and decided to wait in line for the next pick up for the orchard run.

Since it took better than twenty minutes, we had to keep three wound up yahoos entertained.

Three animals in their natural habitat.

A careful balancing act was required to pull this one off!
( what you can't see is mom's foot steadying the mini totem
to prevent Bubba from teetering over onto his head and
smooshing that bear's wooden nose into the concrete )

But it kept them entertained while we all pondered "where the hell is that tractor anyhow?"

This is what happens when you give a Spud too much sugar.

After what seemed like an eternity, the U-Pick truck arrived and we loaded up, in search of selecting apples to take home. Not a big deal for the seasoned Robinette's diva that I am, but the kids had a blast with it.
In spite of their enthusiasm, it was obvious that some members of our party were getting worn out.

He's such a daydreamer.

We rode out about a half a mile into the orchard, and our oh so helpful tour guide of sorts indicated which apples were which, and those that we ere best for etaing versus baking. Quite helpful knowledge should you be a fan of the sweet n' juicy versus the trat and firm.

This is what I had to look at for the journey.

What?? You expected this blog to stay 100% clean and wholesome?

What can I say... I have a thing about farm hands. It's a sickness, really.
I've no desire to live on a farm ( blech! ), own farm animals ( double blech! ) or trade my smelly, obnoxious husband in for a rugged rancher type.... but looking..

My only regrets: I didn't get a shot from the front, and he wasn't wearing a cowboy hat.

Braedy wanted to pick apples for everyone.

( thank goodness the other participants were good natured! )

From there, we headed back to the cottage, ate dinner and headed for home.

...and one last visual before heading out the door. The sky, all illuminated in violets and amber, was too beautiful to resist.

There's something about a sunset on the water that just gets to me. It's as if, no matter what happens, no matter how bad things are, for one moment, all is right with the world.

All in all, not too bad for a day that was supposed to be full of chores.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 1, Round 2

See? I told you that I wasn't bailing.

It's been a week chocked to the brim with giving.

But I'll leave that aside and start with today.

Day 1:
I have spent so much time an energy over the past few days on giving to other people, that it was time to give a little bit back to my husband.
I used my MyPoints ( for those who don't know what MyPoints is, it's a rockin' online shopping initiative ) points and got Chris a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. It arrived yesterday, and between that, some member coupons and extra cash, he picked up two Star wars graphic novels he wanted and a Dashiel Hammett novel.

Before we hit B&N, I showed him this incredible spice store ( that is moving to our side of town, which made us both very happy ) that my boss referred me to, and bought him a few things that weren't needed for the kitchen but wanted.
Between the two, he was happy.

I packed up a slew of books that I picked up for a friend's daughter and will be putting those in the mail tomorrow.
And I weeded out more craft stuff to give to the preschool.

It's been a rough couple of months at our house. Things have been tense, but the situation has been a useful one. It was a lot less painful that it could have been, and in spite of the financial stress and the creative bill juggling, Chris and I have worked together as a team. Usually when the checkbook looks sickly, it turns into a battle, but this time we dealt with it without fighting about it, and have ( I hope! ) figured out an effective game plan for the next round of hour cut layoff insanity.
After weeks and weeks of phone calls and eventually submitting written complaints and become a nuisance at our mortgage company, all has been resolved and life is back to normal, and thankfully, without ever getting close to a forecloseure notice ( though as disgusted as Chris has been with Citi, if we'd received one, I think he'd have told them to shove the 1,400 sq ft. headache where the sun doesn't shine ), and with considerably less financial setback than we expected.

The boys will be in school five days a week, for six weeks, starting tomorrow, and I intend to utilize that time to give back to the school, my community and get some stuff done around the house that will result in giving away more stuff.
But first, Tuesday will be all mine.

I need a day to myself. Screen calls, or maybe just shut the phones off, stay in my pjs, watch some tv and work on craft projects.
No matter what I do, it's my gift to myself. One that is long overdue.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 29

The final day of round 1 went ended very uneventfully.

My gives for the day:

I purged a slew of stamps from my stash and added them to the give bag for the preschool.

I made a coupon for a friend.

Okay, that part sounds lame. Let me explain.

It's part of a project on Splitcoaststampers. Someone nominates you to receive a $5 gift card, but they don't tell you who they are ( she knows so I've no worries about her seeing this and guessing ).
You buy a $5 gift card for someplace fun.... a craft store in her area, Target, McDonald's, Starbucks.. whatever... and mail it to her, but still don't fess up as to who you are. The recipient has to guess.

I didn't buy a gift card for this woman because I have access to order some things that she wants, but will not otherwise order for herself for quite a while, if at all, because she puts every spare dime into her business and helping it thrive... plus I can get the things she wants for cheaper than she can, and the cost of the two items together, even before shipping, will exceed the designated $5 increment.
But the gal has a heart of gold, and it's the size of Alaska, so she's worth every cent and then some.

I also got a handmade wreath for a friend / co-worker as a housewarming gift, and gave it to her at work, because she was feeling very down in the dumps about the move. She wanted the new place and the decisions with it, but has been catching a lot of somewhat unjustified lack for it.So I wanted to show her that I supported her decision ( even though I'll miss having her as my neighbor ).

I am SO ready for round two, but I need to take a couple of days off and decompress. We've had a lot of stuff thrown at us in the past 48 hours... I just need some time to let it settle in and decide what happens next.
But rest assured, I'll be back at it before the end of the week. It's ben too worthwhile to NOT do it again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Showing a lil' bloggy love

Just 'cause I think Chrystal's a swell gal ( and I love her handmade goodies ).

Go check out her blog.

Plus if you do, she might give you something.

Go...go now!

Mmmm'kay... bye!


P.S. Here's the link:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Days 27 and 28 ( early on ). Recap and a bit of enlightenment.

It finally dawned on me.

Below you will find pieces of blog response conversation between myself and a friend, one which stemmed over my first blog insert for the 29 Gifts project, though some time after I initially posted it.

I will leave her name out of the text, but anyone who reads / has read my MySpace blog can see the conversation in its entiriety.

"I just got in on this blog of yours, just had a chance to see what this is all about. I know you can't see me, but in my home you're getting a standing ovation. Even without these confessions and affirmations I never saw you as anything but kind, generous, and self-aware. Of course I see the attitude, but it's all part of the charm and attraction that is you. Just the fact that you would undertake this self-challenge and examination is confirmation of what I already know is in your heart and head. I bet you've learned a Hell of a lot about yourself and others on this ride."

"Indeed, I have.
I'm almost through my first run, and I know that I'm not finished.

I don't know how soon, but I feel like I need to do it again. There's a something that I need to do, but I'm not quite at the point where I can bring myself to do it, and for that, there will at least be a round 2 to the 29 Gifts project ( for me. Some are on Round 4 ).

Giving isn't difficult. It's doing it without remorse, contingencies, or a need for self gratification - that's the hard part.
I am not, by nature, a kind person. I readily accept that I am selfish and shallow, short tempered and cruel. But there are worse things, and worse people and in spite of my flaws I feel like there's a universal way to treat others ( and it's not 'how you want to be treated' ), and even when I am at my worst, I do my best to keep that in mind.Some days it's easiers than others."

"I'm sure that you are your own harshest critic.
Every act can be considered selfish by nature, even breathing, if you think about it.
Please don't judge yourself too cruelly. Your road is no less rocky than anyone else's; some of the path you can choose, some of it was already laid when you got there.

A philosophy of life such as the one you're working with/towards in 29 day increments can be yours all the time, without counting at all. Maybe this practice is something that you'll make into your life.The practice you're indulging in is kind, generous and introspective. I can't imagine anyone expects you to be a Buddhist Monk or Mother Teresa. I wonder what end you're demanding of yourself and why. You don't owe penance for any unspeakable horrors.Have you run over a neighbor's pet and laughed about it or something? ;)

Go read the Tao, it's a great book with great answers that only you can provide.

And I'll sabotage it all by saying that life for everyone would be a lot less difficult if we all weren't constantly surrounded by a**holes!"

"Really, it's not penance. It's just a need to detox.

I have a lot of *quizzical brow furrow* .. I don't want to say 'anger issues' because that isn't quite it... but something... and cleaning out the closet seems to be helping.

I've read the Tao. Have had a tattered copy for ages. Used to carry it with me everywhere I went. Found solace in some of the Dalai Lama's works as well. How so much serene goodness and wisdom can be deposited into one person... well, it just amazes me.

My dislike for society as a whole increases with the passing of each day. I'm sure that underneath it all, that's where the drive to do this lies. My subconscious mind searching for an iota of goodness and gratitude left in humanity.

The disappointing part is that there seems to be less than two thousand people who get it.

I know that there are others going unnoticed in the world, but to a greater degree we - myself included - have become a congolmeration of self absorbed know it alls who cannot see any further than the tips of our noses most of the time, and an arm's reach on a good day.
Unable to give without complaint but quick to hold out our hands in anticipation of whatever someone else has to offer.

Freecycle is a prime example of that.

Someone will post an offer, say a pair of yellow slippers, size 8. All the details will be included, ladies slippers, their size, traction. Whatever.There will inevitibly be thirty or better people who are either men who have no wives, children, mothers or friends for whom they wish to claim the item, women who wear a six, seven, nine or ten shoe, and others who already have multiple pair of slippers, some of them yellow as well, but they just feel a need to have one more pair.

It's pathetic. An easy way to make a quick buck or amass a pile of stuff that isn't really needed."


And that's it. That's what I've been looking for.

Every day I come home from my job, and every day I hate it a little bit more. The work should be rewarding, and it is, but not the way that it should be.

Not the way that I want it to be.

Gratitude is non-existent. I'm not looking for a thank you. I get those all the time, be they half-hearted or truly sincere. Rather, a genuine sense of gratitude - that someone will walk away from the encounter we've had, take what they've learned and gained and pass it on to someone else.

Pay it forward, for crissakes. It's not that hard.

I've hit a point where I am absolutely fed up with the sense of selfish arrogance carried around by the average individual. What people don't see is how much harm it is truly doing them. All that bottled up anger, the lack of spiritual well being... and trying to explain it, through simple acts of goodwill, or simply saying "you'l get a whole lot further by being nice to your neighbor" is like talking to a brick wall.

When I landed in the non-profit sector, I felt like there was a divine reason behind it. It couldn't be further from what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I started out giving my all and then some to the task at hand. As time went on, I realized that I'd burn out and break down if I did that for too long, so I started 'leaving work at work' as best as I possibly could.
But the calls come in like roaches on my day off, residents knock on my door, and the people with whom I work can't seem to function for a day without me. All of this further fueling my disdain.

I need to learn to say no. To establish firm boundaries and adhere to them. I don't have to answer my phone ( and I don't always do it, but it's that one time that I do that keeps them coming back ) to be good at my job. Whatever it is, it CAN wait until tomorrow.

That doesn't change the caliber of people that I am dealing with, but it may change how I deal with them, even if only a little bit.

I know that my expectations aren't unrealistic. What I don't know is what to do about it.

I can't go on day after day, generally hating society as a whole. It isn't good for me. I have enough Irish grudge bearing and angst on reserve from my youth, and quite frankly, most of the people I interact with are not going to change because of anything that I impart upon them.

Where to go and what to do next lie upon my shoulders alone, and I have a pretty good idea where to start.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Days 24 - 26... what a blur!

I haven't been home and awake long enough to actually blog about anything.

Day 24 ( Thursday):
I volunteered at our local farmers' market and met with the market master to arrange a strategic session for up Harvet Festival, which is only a few weeks away ( and we have a LOT of planning to do!! ).
I also weeded out some things from the gift cupboard stash to donate. Some will go to Toys For tots, some to a local crisis shelter and some will be shipped to a friend who won't have the money to do a Christmas for her children without missing a house payment or something of that nature. ( they already do home made gifts for most of the family, but the kids are little and still want toys and things to open up ).

Day 25 ( Friday ):
Dropped off some of said donation items, and spent some time listening to a 'work friend' who confides in me when things raen't going well. I'm a few months difefrent in age from her own daughter, and since moving to Washington state, their line of communication has been strained. So I have been adpoted as a fill in of sorts, which is okay by me. She's a sweet woman, and everyone needs someone.

Before the chat pit stop I swung by a local craft supply outlet store and picked up a few things for the boys' former preschool. The Kid Crafts department was 50% off, so I spent only a few dollars and purchased enough supplies that at least two classrooms will be able to enjoy them.

Got things ready and wanted to have myself in order when I got up in the morning. Didn't quite work out the way I planned, but that's how details seem to go with stuff like this.

Day 26 ( Saturday ):
Got up and got ready for the baby shower while Chris went to get his hair cut. Apparently he felt the need to only half listen and translated "on the road no later than 10:30" to "I have until 10:30 to get my hair cut and then drive home".
So I was almost forty five minutes late departing for set up ( and THEN got nailed in traffic because of flooding and construction ) and still needed to make a pit stop because in my rush to load and leave, I forgot something that I needed to bring.
Thankfully my original departure time was allocating for an extra errand, so in the end, I was only about twenty minutes late for set up.

It was all worth it in the end, because the mother to be was thrilled with how things turned out.

Ended up staying there a lot later than I had originally planned to, and was cranky about that, so I feel like the whole give was soured by my bad attitude.
I was gracious and social at the shower but I grumbled all the way there and all the way home.

I spent some time talking with a friend of the mother to be. I had only met her one time before and it was under tense circumstances and not a good day for me. But we found that we had a common interest as angry parents with children who are getting a runaround because our Autistic sons don't get the support they need from the Michigan school systems.

Michigan doesn't have much for an Autism network, and I think that Jill and I will be talking more and info sharing. We'd both like to see a strong network start up here, and we're both angry enough, and fed up with how the system works.

She slid politics into it, on the other side of the fence from where I stand, and I'm now kicking myself for discarding her email info ages ago, because the links that I have would probably be enough to persuade her to come on over to the other team ( I find that the older I get, the less I like the Republican party's options. I agree with some of their values, but the people who represent them tend to be morons, in my opinion ).

So I'll be making a point to contact Jill this week, via our mutual friend, and go from there.

I went to bed feeling like I need to so something big this week. We shall see what Fate holds in store for me.
Sunday is still getting started for me... I'll do my best to blog again later this evening.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Days 22 and 23

It's been a very cranky couple of days... I'm not feeling much like giving anything beyond a limited display of partience towards other people.

That being said...

Day 22:
I spent most of the day on chores and I set to work on a baby shower gift for my friend, Sue ( the same one that I made the centerpieces for ).I hadn't made a diaper cake in a while.... I'd forgotten how easy - and fun - it is.
It's simple, but I think it'll match the rest of the decorations.

I didn't get as much done as I should have because I stopped what I was doing and sat on the floor to play Magnetix with my boys.

Day 23:
Most of the day was spent at work. I did however, end up volunteering to assist with a fundraiser project that isn't even remotely part of my job ( thus, all of the hours I have to put into it translate into unpaid shifts ).
But it'll help save a grant that needs to stay afloat for our organization to avoid being spanked with a ten thousand dollar repayment, so it's a worthwhile endeavor.

From there it was hit the ground running at home... I made sure to beat Chris home from work so that my father in law wasn't waiting in the truck until the East Beltline traffic disaster decided to release my husband from its tyrannical clutches.

I spent a great deal longer that usual working with Jennah on her math homework, and amazingly, I didn't bark until we hit the one hour mark and she was still dragging her feet. Dealing with her degree of stubborn can be rather challenging sometimes... she is very much her mother's child.
I finished the diaper cake, and rewinding back to earlier in the day, I offered up the remaining pack of diapers to an officer that I know via work whose wife is due to deliver a baby any day now. Could've posted them on Craigslist, but contrary to the popular belief, cops don't make *that* much money.Plus he's a really, really nice guy. I said, it hasn't been a very give filled couple of days, but what I did manage to do took a lot of effort.
Chalk it up to horomones, I suppose. Stupid ovarian failure and all that. Grrrr.
I'm gonna head to bed before I take me rage out on a bag of Oreos and undo some of my dieting effort.
Good night, all.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Days 20 and 21

Somehow it seems to work better to post two days at once.

Day 20:
Remember when I said that I had a gut feeling that signing up for extras in the Frost coupon book wasn't a good idea?

Yeah, well, now I know why.

I received a message from Pam, our principal yesterday, asking me to represent our school at part of the District Parent Advisory Council.
It's a time consuming project. Three hours a hight, one day a month for eight months ( seven meetings w/December off ).

After talking it over with Chris, I consented. They're providing child care, so even if Chris has a class, I'm covered.
There's no reason for me to say no.

The first meeting conflicts with Grade Level Night, but Chris can handle it. He needs to get brought up to speed anyhow.

So it's an ongoing give of sorts... to my kids, to their school and to the district families as a whole. I am an educated loudmouth who does her homework. For some reason, people listen when I speak, and somehow I manage to make an impact in a positive way.

Hopefully this round goes better than the last one... I tried it the first year and was very disappointed. Not enough people with a proactive agenda and too many people with an axe to grind over issues in their own school(s).

If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem, and quite frankly, there are too many problems out there and not enough solutions.

Day 21:
I've been mulling over a few gives of late and I decided that it was time to do this.

My blog readers, across three sites, peruse what I do and what kind of impact the 29 Gifts project has had on my life. It's time that I seek out others who I think - know - will benefit from this.
I'd be lying to myself if I thought that everyone could do it. Or rather, that everyone would do it.
So I'm sending emails ( or MySpace messages ) to a handful of folks who have the kind of generous spirit that would be drawn to something like this, and to some people who may be skeptical and reading this, but I know will benefit on a spiritual and emotional level from participating.
Will they do it? I cannot say. But it won't stop me from trying.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Days 18 and 19

The past two days have gone by in a whirlwind.

One of the posts that I made on Thursday came to fruition yesterday. Someone on Craigslist who was simply seeking companionship, but asking in the form of info seeking.
Oddly enough, we seem to have hit it off rather well.

Day 18:

Fridays are my half days and instead of ignoring the phone after I got home ( as tempting as it was ), I took a call from my co-worker, Jane and walked her through a situation that she would not have otherwise been able to handle.

Backing up a little bit. I gave kindness and showed gratitude to a neighbor.

As I was waiting at the bus stop to pick up my boys, a gentleman stopped in a rather awkward ( and potentially troublesome as I thought it would be here the bus came to a halt within mere minutes ) location, got out and pulled down a yard sale sign from the nearby telephone pole.

I live near a 't' stop, and the highway feeds off a couple hundred feet away.
Thus, people use that pole as their own advertising space.

Those of us who reside near said pole end up having to either look at the soggy, faded signs, or take them down ourselves... or clean them up when the wind blows them all over the adjacent lawns or into the street.
So we spend a lot of time in the summer, grumbling about the careless disregard of others.

In four years in the this, yesterday was the FIRST time I'd ever seen anyone take care of their signs.

I thanked him for being so courteous to his pseudo neighbors ( the address on the sign is down the hill from mine ). His response: 'it never occured to me to not take them down. That's just gross."

He looked just as pleased to be thanked for his small gesture as I was to see it happen.

Next time I make cookies, I'll be sure to bring some down there. His wife looks very friendly, and they keep a lovely yard... making connections is always a bonus.

Marie phoned, asking if I'd come shopping with her, in search of a birthday gift ( bought in a rush, as his b-day is today ) for her significant other, Brad. I'd planned to make some cards and get some sewing caught up, but I laid it aside and spent the evening perusing the DVDs at Barnes & Noble ( and I leant her my member discount towards to massive purchase ), stopped at Michael's, and on the way home splurged on what I refer to as junk dinner.

Instead of fries, however, I picked up yogurt parfaits for the kids. They were beyond thrilled - you'd have thought I gave them whipped gold, as excited as they were.It pleases me when they opt for the healthy choices over junk food, and they still view things like yogurt and string cheese as "treats". A win - win situation.

Although I wanted nothing more than to shower and pass out in the comfort of my own bed, I curled up on the couch and dozed while Chris took in a movie. Couch snuggling is something that we've done for years. Some people fidget and fight for space, whereas we have found ways to twist and contort that amaze the onlooker and are very comfortable for us. ( unless his toes are cold. then we have issues )

Day 19 ( today ):

I let Chris sleep in and got up, started the massive pile of dishes ( we don't have a dishwasher and I loathe the chore ), made coffee and brought him breakfast in bed.

I then stayed in bed with him for a while ( he's too snuggly to resist and the bed was sooo warm..... ) and we got up and went about our day.

We had a bit of good fortune fall into our lap in the past twenty four hours, so I felt that I needed to allow the family to enjoy some of it, even though it should've all gone into the bill pool.

A Dollar Bank reimbursement came through that we didn't expect to get, and I received a check from the school district for the two days of training that I did back in July ( I didn't think I'd get paid until November, once we'd completed the program that I did said training for ). Between the two, it brought an extra $406 into the bank account.

The reward: Chris took Iain to see the new Star Wars animated film and he managed to talk me into Mexican for dinner ( he was sulking over his 'other' favorite local restuarant burning to the ground last night... both of his favorites have gone under, under very unfortunate circumstances in the past two years ).

And now we'll be headed to the shower and off to read before passing out ( tomorrow is pancake day so I have to get out of bed long before he does ).

I know that I am missing something, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what it is.... blame it on lack of sleep.

Good night all... pleasant dreams.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Days 15-17

I didn't expect to have much time to post anything or any site this week.... it's back to school week for us, so things have been beyond busy at our house. ( I'd be gone right now, except we're experiencing a much needed rain... gives me an excuse to stay home, do laundry and get other things caught up! )
Anyways, here's the three day run, in summarized form.

Tuesday ( Day 15 ):
Jennah's first day of school. I came home and packed up some things for donation, worked on the baby shower centerpieces and my friend Marie came over, seeking help with a crafting project.

The give for the day was in the form of time, tutelage and supplies.

I showed Marie how to heat seal her chipboard coasters, and walked her through some creative pointers for the process along the way. The end result came out very well. I think that the SCS hostess ( and the five other recipients ) will be pleased with her work.
In addition, I worked on a project that Chris has sweet talked me into. It could be lucrative, IF I can pull it off, but at this point, it's still a taxing pain in the rear.But it'll hopefully be cost effective for us... paying for his welding caps adds up fast!

Martha Stewart, eat your heart out. ;-)

Wednsday ( Day 16 ):
Iain and Braeden's first day of Kindergarten!
I followed the bus to school, dropped off the rest of Jennah's monster supply list, and all of the paperwork for all three kiddos ( everything goes home with / returns to school with the youngest child in the building to save on shuffling ).From there, it was off to the police department and then the office, to spend the day at work.

Yesterday's gives were patience, knowledge and 'extras'.

I dealt with calls who were not residents, but had valid issues.
Legally, I can - and am supposed to - simply refer them to the resource who can give the needed information, and send them on their way, instead of helping them obtain the real answers. If the person I am dealing with doesn't live within our neighborhood boundaries, then I can't count it in my performance report, and our board can get uppity and refuse to pay me for any time that I spent on the project.

But they were just phone calls, and none of them required a great deal of extra time... just a couple of websites searched and a couple of additional phone calls... I know how frustrating it is to seek help and get shoved off on someone else, and I just couldn't do it.

It felt like the right way to handle the first situtation, and then the floodgates opened... as if karma sent out a beacon, telling people to call me instead of phoning elsewhere.
I closed out my work day by bringing a volunteer home, and thanking him for coming in to help out.
Instead of feeling drained when I stepped in my front door, I felt very energized.

Just for fun ( and to clean up some leftovers ), I suggested a less than healthy but oh so fun for the kiddos dinner ( this mexican dip mess that Chris created... loaded with meat, beans, fresh veggies, dairy... not all *that* bad but a lot of calories on a plate ). They were thrilled, and it gave me an opportunity to scoop up Iain for some one on one time in the form of a quick jaunt to the mom n' pop grocery store a few blocks away ( had to grab tortilla chips for dinner ).

We talked about school and the things he did and enjoyed, and how excited he is to make new friends and see old ones. Iain was, however, upset because his favorite shirt got ripped on the climbing wall. Someone stepped on it, and tore a clean slice across the front of one panel.
He wasn't mad at the person who did it, just frustrated because it's his favorite Hawaiian shirt.
So, I dug around and poked at it and I think I've found a way to fix it, if I add something to cover the sewn line and mask the other side... I'll make sure he has it back by next week to wear it again.
After dinner I spent some time online, doing additional networking, and relaying information. Instead of looking for people who wanted items, I looked for people who wanted resources and feedback.

Today, thus far ( also known as Day 17, In Progress ):
I decided to resume the networking / info sharing vibe, and found a couple of folks on Craigslist who I had a feeling weren't going to get much feedback, and what one of them was bound to get wasn't going to be very nice.
A young man has come to our community to finish his education and is looking for hippies in our uptight community. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it IS if you live here. Nothing is mocked more often than a 'dirty hippie'. And this kid is looking for his own people. Sounded educated, inspired and very polite... just sincerely wanted some information and to hopefully establish a connection, as he knows no one.
So I shared what I had and knew, and he was thrilled. Sent a very sweet and well thought out response within minutes of my message to him... signed it with 'keep fighting the good fight'.

It's inspiring to see so much hope in the youth. I feel very old saying this, but kids these days are spoiled and lazy.The majority of the twenty-something generation has failed to complete a damned thing, and cannot do much on their own. Those who have achieved more stand out, exalted for their efforts, and paraded about like poster children for reformation of Generation Y's collective slacker attitude problem.
While I do not partake in his lifestyle, I applaud his efforts. I hope that he finds the likeminded souls he's seeking and when I see this fella's name pop up in the legalization movement, I won't be the least bit surprised.

This post has taken me three times as long as it usually would, because I keep popping over to CL, freecycle and GR cafe` to further the responding process.I don't mean to sound arrogant, but sometimes I forget what I gigantic toolbox I am.
It's not like I know anything that anyone else cannot find out.. I simply network and do the research.
That and forge connections in the community. But really, anyone with enough ambition can do it.
I have the data nestled in my grey matter and I am happy to share it.

...for now I'll retrun to housework and network, and maybe some needed item scouting. If I have time I'll post a wrap up to the day before I head off to bed.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Days 13 and 14

Day 13:
Yesterday's give was to walk away from the confines of everyday life ( and this computer... it causes some grief in our house some days ) and just spend the day with my family.
We ( along with my near sister in law, her daughter and my niece ) spent most of the day at Millennium Park.
The kids had a blast in the splash pad, and it gave me an opportunity to enjoy the warmth of the sushine without turning into a giant freckled lobster.

I wrapped up the day accompanying my friend Marie to have her computer serviced. Both she and the fella who volunteered his time in exchange for Guinness ( MUCH cheaper than hiring the Geek Squad! And for more entertaining ) wanted me to tag along, and though it goes against my Sunday Rule, I figured 'what the heck' and five hours later.... it was still broken.
But the conversation was light for the most part, and company was good, so it was worth it.

Day 14:
I uploaded photos and paid the insane One Hour Photo rate to work on the kids' pen pal project. I'm still not quite finished, but I'll wrap that up while Jennah is at school tomorrow.
The whole process is become rather taxing and more expensive than I planned ( but that's partly my own fault for procrastinating on uploading pictures ) but Jennah's having a blast assembling her book, and the boys think it's fun to draw accompanying photos.

It'll be a wonderful gift to the pen pals when finished... hopefully they'll be in the mail before Wednesday afternoon.

I've also spent more time today scouting for needs. Thus far I haven't been successful, but I am not giving up until I find at least one person to connect with and offer up goodies ( and hopefully get a response ).

I have spent some time mulling over the coupon book for the school.
It's due tomorrow, and for now I feel like I need to refrain from taking on any extras, especially anything really time consuming.
I filled out my four, and made sure that they were spots that don't get filled easily ( like donating soda products or cookies - we always get a surplus ), but for now, that's all I am going to do.
I know that the marketing position will take a lot of my time on a nearly weekly basis from now until the end of April, so I think that makes up for anything I didn't try to tackle.

For now I'm going to go finish the BTS Checklist and make sure that Jennah hs everything ready to go for tomorrow morning.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Days 10 - 12

It's been a very hectic three day run, but good and bad, but worthwhile throughout.

Day 10:
The shells went over well. This is Chris' first time bringing in 'goodies' since switching to this job site / contractor and it was a well received gesture. Feeding the troops goes a long way with this job, for a multitude of reasons.
I spent a great deal of the afternoon working on the baby shower centerpieces. With two weeks to go, it's sliding into crunch time. They're coming out well thus far; I hope that the momma to be likes them as well as I do.

We had a surplus of summer activity freebies that needed to find new homes. I could've started on Thursday and just packed my kids' weekend with crazy amounts of fun stuff to do, but I opted to share the wealth instead.
Freecycle doesn't allow coupon posts ( at least in GR it doesn't anyhow ) so I sought out families who I thought would benefit from the access, and offered some passes for Millennium Park to my near sister in law so that she'd have something fun to do with my niece over the weekend ( said niece's birthday is the 31st and they're really low on funds ).

Day 11:
I spent some time trying to help a friend fix her computer, and as a forethought, because my skills are far from professional, I contacted another friend who works with computers, and arranged for him to aid and assist on Sunday ( AND I have to go along, so that cuts into my "me" time, but it's worth it to help out friend A and see friend B ).

I mailed out some swap stuff and gifted a friend / hostess with a needed wood block and sent another friend a loaner stamp set for a swap project.

We had a slice of good news as well: I wasn't expecting the dollar bank reimbursements for anothet week and a half at best, and when I checked my mail, there they were. It wasn't an exorbitant amount of money, but there was enough to throw some into the 'medical extras' savings account ( we don't have dental or vision coverage, and we have to pay 10% of all ER and hospitalization ) and put some into the mortgage catch up fund as well.

Day 12:
Todays gives were mostly for my family.

I am not a late sleeper by nature. I don't like to stay in bed later than 8:00 / 8:30. But my husband wanted me to stay in bed with him, so I snuggled in and read while he slept. Ended up benefiting us both, but I'd prefer to hit the sack early for cuddly time, but it made him happy, which in turn made me happy.

After a slow start this morning ( we stayed in bed until well after 10:00 - thank goodness I have really good kids! ), Chris and I poked about around the house, made lunch and we packed the kids up and spent most of the day at the zoo. I splurged and paid for Chris and Jennah to ride the Zip Line, and had the line not been insanely long and the boys been over tired, I'd have talked Chris into camel rides, too ( we'll save that for next time ).
Before we went in, we spent a half an hour or so feeding the ducks and geese. Could've used up the errant burger buns at home, but the kids enjoy feeding the foul, and it always makes for good photo opportunities.

After the zoo, we ran some store errands, and our last stop of the day was at Toys R Us. The boys had birthday club coupons to use, and I found some Transformers Titanium guys that were marked down to $3 each. The boys ended up getting them for free, after the sales tax zeroed out as well.

In my possession was a decent savings discount card. Could've spent it, but I knew that we didn't need to. Instead of just leaving and letting it go to waste, I sought out someone who would put it to use. Finding someone who was going to spend fifty dollars proved to be difficult, but the woman who ended up being the recipient was most grateful. She was shopping from a baby registry, so the savings was being put to good use.

Now the kids are fast asleep, and I sent Chris out for a dinner-snack for him and I from Burger King ( also not something we normally do, but it's one of those days ), and we'll settle in on the couch and finish watching 'Valley of the Dolls' before heading to bed.

I hope that you're all having a wonderful weekend.

And now I will depart and resume mine.

Say goodnight, Gracie

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day Nine

Today's give won't be fully utilized until tomorrow, and it's kind of a two part deal.

I spent the evening making stuffed shells for my husband to bring to work. Two pans full, to share with the fellas on the job site.
I don't mind doing it, but shells are one of the three most time consuming dishes that I make, and as I was getting a late start on them anyhow, it probably wasn't the best choice to double up the batch and have them for dinner, too

My kids love them, and rarely get them because of the expense and effort required to complete the dish.
They looked so excited when they saw me tossing pasta into the boiling water, I simply couldn't refuse.In spite of eating dinner about an hour later than we've been accustomed to, it was enjoyed by everyone, myself included.

Not the best food for my diet, but it was worth it to have dinner as a family, instead of mom opting to eat an alternative food ( doesn't happen every night but with pasta and such I try to decline ).

We had a small slice of good fortune today: Chris' pay scale raise was put into effect on this check, and they included an increment that was backdated to July 1st. It only amounted to $72 ( thirty cents an hour doesn't do a whole lot week by week but it adds up at the end of the year ), but it's money that we didn't have yesterday, and it's enough to pay off the final installment of Chris' E.R. bill and fuel up the Focus.
That's enough to make me happy. I still have to look at what we have and make it go more places than we have money to put into them, but it's a start, and I am grateful for that.

It's bedtime for me... good night, all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day Eight

Chris and I rounded up the troops and went to orientation this evening.

As hectic as it is, I always enjoy the process.

Well, not the paperwork, but the reuniting with people I interact with via the builidng but do not see over the summer, and that feeling of a fresh new start to something good.

This is a new building for the boys, and while I am ( and they are, through me ) acclimated with this program as this is Jennah's fourth year there, I feel a twinge of sadness over parting with the staff from the previous school. They're a wonderful group, and I am happy to know that I will still have opportunities via my day job to interact with them, even if on a less consistent schedule.
When I dropped coasters off on Friday, I asked for a sneek peek at the classroom roster, and found out that Miss J had been places with the 'other' third grade teacher. She's nice, and I am sure she's a wonderful educator, but wasn't who Jennah was hoping for and it wasn't who I was hoping for.

I expressed my disappointment to our 'office goddess' ( Cara is so much more than a secretary, and she's an absolute sweetheart of a human being ), and she said she'd put a bug in Pam's ear ( the principal and ultimate roster facilitator ), and lo and behold when we got to the school today, Jennah was in the classroom we'd hoped for.

Being a helpful, active parent definitely pays off! :-)

So everyone was happy, including Jennah's teacher ( who, last year, said he'd hoped that I'd request him because he so enjoyed her when she came in as a helper... it amazes me that so many people find my child to be such a delight when she has such a mouth at home ).

As I wandered from class to class, saying hello, I saw evidence of my handiwork on desks. The coasters were well received and seemingly utilized. A win - win situation for Pam, the staff and myself ( I always fear that my creations will be hated ).

The best part, Iain's teacher and I were talking and it sounds like he'll be in school five days a week, as part of the 'kindergarten plus' program, instead of two and a half days. She asked a couple of questions, watched him for a few minutes ( mind you, she does know us, as she was Jennah's teacher and she's had some fairly recent interaction with Iain because of my being up at the school so much ), and said that they'd hav eto test him to be sure, but he looked like a solid candidiate for the extra help.


I was so frustrated when they released him to regular ed. and left us to fumble with the ball. I don't blame the teachers - I blame Michigan's guidelines - but it sucked and we're been sweating it all summer.
Since Braeden isn't doing a couple of things that he should be ( though he is flying past his age expectancy levels in so many others ), he may get six weeks of extra classroom time as well... we'll see what happens over the next three weeks. But it was Iain I worried about, and now I can rest easy.
And he's six now, and in kindergarten, so as soon as they're done with assessing him, we can get started with the rest of his testing and hopefully get Bubba the help he really needs.

I suppose you'd call that a gift to myself, and to my son, because we've worked really hard to get him where he needs to be, and that hard work is finally paying off.

My gives for today have been in the form of moral support, friendship and participation.

So many people are suffering right now... emotionally, physically, and financially. I have opened myself up where and when I can, and spent time with and on people that I don't usually on a day to day basis.
I had a long conversation with a long distance friend this afternoon. It was wonderful to just sit and chat with her. I know that if she lived closer ( she's halfway across the country from me ), we'd spend an awful lot of time together and be that much better for it.

Part of our school program is a volumteer coupon book. Last year, each family was supposed to fill out and complete acts for three of the offered options. Some are as simple as donating a couple of two liter bottles of soda, and some are year long, ongoing projects. It's entirely up to the individual as to what they participate in.
This year, it went up to four coupons, because not every family participates ( though we are supposed to, it's not strictly enforced ). I know that if I opted to do only one or two, or even none, I could get away with it... my name is on one of those tickets as an event coordinator, but that just doesn't feel right to me.
I opted for easy outs on a couple of them, but for the other two, I deliberately chose things that would require serious and sincere effort from me when called upon, even if they are not daily or even weekly activities ( more than a one time deal, but not an 'all the time' project ).

There's a coupon in there for Family Support.. you can sign up for child care, transportation, assisting with food/ clothing ( we have a crew that makes dinner for families who members take ill, new babies, or whatever, for about two weeks ), notes / cards of encouragement or financial assistance.
I know it'll be a taxing pain in the rear if I sign up for that one... it borders on hectic sometimes, especially over the holidays... but something tells me that I should.
I have until Monday night to decide, as the paperwork has to be back in with the kids on Tuesday morning.
...for now, I am beckoned to the shower... it's been a long day and my back and hip are killing me.
Have a wonderful night, all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day Seven

Today has not been an easy day.

In spite of this, I sat down and willingly worked on my give, and enjoyed it.

I'd missed the last two episodes of 'Prison Break' when the season wrapped up, so I hunkered down with supplies in hand and whipped out two dozen baby sock rosebuds while I watched tv ( usually they are easy, but this baby's gonna have HUGE feet - 3" plus already and she's not due til November - so I had to use larger sized socks ), and prior to that, I started the base for the flowerpots ( for the rosebuds ).

Part of me looks at my checkbook and thinks "I shouldn't be doing this. It's an expense I cannot afford, and Sue would understand if I had to abdicate." but I won't do that. ( but I cannot take on any more facets of the project, no matter what happens )
She wouldn't do that to me, and if I don't, that leaves the project to stumble and a first time mom to have to do the stuff herself, and that isn't fair.

So as much as it pains us financially, I know I am doing the right thing. And the part of me that isn't stressing over paying the bills feels fantastic. It will be a wonderful celebration of new life and a day worth remembering for all who attend.

More freecycle and Craigslist pickups today, wrapping up that process until I feel another urge to purge.

Pardon me if I am not feeling all the warm fuzzy karmic happiness ... I just don't have enough strength in my to put on that kind of game face today.

Have a wonderful evening, all. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Days four and five, with six in progress

I haven't been home enough to actually post anything, save for my give projects.

For days four and five, I purged.
Not just dug out stuff that I knew I was aiming to get rid of, but actively sought out situtaions that felt like legitimate requests for aid. ( as many years as I have been involved with Freecycle, I can feel out the BS'ers, plus I know IDs to avoid due to personal experiences.. I am all for unbiased giving but I cannot stand liars who them resell what the asked for under the giuse of needing help )
So, not only did I purge things that just aren't being put to use, I went into the hoarded stuff and pained my inner packrat by giving from the stockpile.

Scrapbooking supplies for a bible school and a co-op.

Clothing for a single mom who works but still cannot quite make ends meet.

Bags of too small jeans, some with holes, some with plenty of play clothes life, and some that are in decent shape, for a woman wh is making a quilt for her son, and shipping it to him... in Baghdad. ( in spite of the warm weather there he misses having a quilt and she figures that denim will hold up better than flannel )

Those are the confirmed gives. Others have been contacted. Two declined, saying they'd received what they asked for and to pass the items on to someone else who needed it more ( three cheers for selfless honesty being alive and well in the world! ).

On Friday I ended up putting quite a bit of additional time, effort an dsome added expense into the coaster project, and in the end earned myself a case of sunburn and more unwanted freckles ( thank goodness my husband thinks they're cute ). But it was worth it.. or at least I hope it was. Haven't heard from the principal yet, to garner any feedback.

Yesterday I spent most of the day with a dear friend. We've known each other for almost eighteen years, but distance and changes in our lives don't always permit us to spend time together. It'd been over a decade since we'd done something more meaningful than a trek to pick up take out dinner for the group without spouses and / or children in tow.
We see each other as often as time permits, but we always have our husbands and my kids along for the events.

We made a two hour drive to attend a concert, talking the whole way there and home, and had a wonderful time. The ticket was a birthday gift for me ( purchased back in the Spring, around my birthday ), but the event was a perfect gift for both of us. A much needed reprieve from the stresses of everyday life, and chance to reconnect on a more personal level. Well worth the effort and far more valuable than the financial investemnts made.

Today's give is underway and ongoing today.

I'm still working on the freecycle / Craigslist project, which will hopefully be complete - for now - today. In addition, I am working on a photo project for my childrens' pen pals ( I signed each of them up for one for the summer ), snapping shots of where we live, things that are here, and what we do. A final gift to the recipient wee ones at the end of the summer. I plan to have them in the mail by Wednesday at the very latest if I can help it.

The last piece of today's give is solely for my husband.
Chris can be very self absorbed and shallow when it comes to wanting to obtain possessions, but at the core, he's a decent human being, capable of strange acts of random compassion.

In spite of my protests, he gives money to homeless people, but only after talking to them first. If they won't talk with him, he won't dole.
He takes time from his overworked day to weed and edge for thr 84 year old lady who lives across the road, and with the money she pays him ( she won't let him leave without a few dollars, we've tried and tried to dissuade it and politely decline ), he buys weed killer for the walks and seed n' feed for her lawn.
Most of all, in spite of his outwardly cranky ways, he's an awesome father. ( just don't ever tell him that - he'll deny it vehemently )After working a slew of overtime hours to catch the bills up, going straight from work to help a friend move, and staying home yesterday so that I could go out and play ( though he wasn't feeling well, so it was kind of a two part deal ), he deserves something to show my gratitude.
So I'm spending my day on him. I stayed in bed at his request ( not easy for me - I am a by 8:00 AM riser even when I sleep in ), I made the usual Sunday Ulster Fry, and I'll make dinner and flex my Shiatsu skills at bedtime.
I hope that you've all had a wonderful weekend... I'm about to go resume mine. :-)