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. ( www.santaclausinc.com ) 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.

...like 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.