Saturday, January 31, 2009

Grace, 3/365

1. Talking to my hubby this morning
2. My daughter's friend hanging out today and playing with both kids
3. My MIL taking my kids today
4. The swaparooni arriving today
5. Clean cabinets, and the sense of accomplishment.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Grace 2/365

1. Lunch out with a co-worker.
2. PB getting straight A's for another marking period.
3. Beginner Band Concerts - they have the opportunity to participate in a music program.
4. My Monster's not so good report card - he's stubborn about learning his letters, but the light bulb has gone off.
5. Video cameras, so that eventually my hubby will get to watch the band concert.

For an explanation of Grace in Small Things, go here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sharing the love, finding it in the small things.

I think the blogosphere is a wonderful place, filled with mostly wonderful people.  And two of them proved it this month by starting two wonderful new projects.

Catherine at Her Bad Mother, BlogHers ACT Canada and several other sites has a new project called Give Good Blog.  Go on, read her whole post, it will explain it all much better than I can.

I don't do give aways (yet) and my review blog is pretty much non-existent, but I try to do good things.  And I love the whole idea behind this project, so I signed up.

Right before I found this post, I signed up to volunteer at a web-based mail charity.  I'm going to post more about it at another time, as I'm still in the approval and assignment phase and haven't actually started, but I want a way that feels like I'm giving to someone else in the world, a way that I can include my children, and I think this is it.

Also, a fellow wife in the unit told me that she needed to purchase bike gear for her husband (lights, helmet, etc.)  The bicycle and pedestrian councils run out of our office, and they give many of these items away every summer.  So I hit them up for some freebies for him, and we hooked him up.  Although it didn't cost me anything, I took the time to utilize a resource I had.  And it made me feel good.

The second project I've joined is Grace in Small Things.  From her inaugural post on her website
The world we live in is loud and harsh and bright and demanding, and it is easy to slide into a less than thoughtful survival mode in which we do what we have to do to make it through the day with the least amount of strife possible. This robs us of the time and energy to be mindful of ourselves and those we love and to recognize the grace that exists in small things.
It is with this thought that I am beginning one year of posts called "Grace In Small Things". Every day for 365 days, I will post a list of five things that have graced my life, either on that day or at any time in my life. Feel free to join me. Or mock me. Or, you know, do whatever's in your heart. You can start on whatever day you want, so if you come across this six months from now, don't let that hold you back.
So simple.  Reminds me that I'm supposed to be looking for the Blessings every day, and I've been failing at that.  So I'm starting again.

Today's Grace items:
1. Reading the second post in that short lived series, a post about my Monster.  And tearing up, because he's still that little boy, but getting so big so quickly.
2.  For my preteen daughter that still wants to cuddle with me and requires a special routine at bedtime.
3.  For my friends sweet little baby boy coming over to play with us tonight.
4.  For the reminder that while I love babies, I don't want anymore.
5.  For a warm house on a cold day.

Happy Love Thursday.  I'm going to start spreading the love all over the place, one day at a time.

Who wants a freebie?

I was directed to this site for Freebies by Jenn.  It's awesome.  I've gotten laundry detergent, granola bars, snacks and who knows what else.  I check it almost daily.  Cause after all, who doesn't love Freebies?  Also, something in the mailbox other than bills and junk mail?  That's awesome.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm so sick of winter

I'm not a big winter fan.  I'm cold in the summer a lot, so winter doesn't do it for me.  Snow is pretty, but then you have to go out in it, and that bites.  It doesn't snow that much here, so it usually isn't really worth getting all the paraphanalia...we tend to make do with layers when it does.  I hate boots made for snow, so I only wear them when absolutely necessary.  That means I end up with wet feet (my own fault, I know). 

It started snowing sometime very early Tuesday morning.  It snowed all day Tuesday. I brought the kids home after work and sent them out to play.  At some point late last night, it became sleet/freezing rain.  So, no school today, and a delay for me.  Shoveling icy snow on a slanted driveway, trying not to fall on my butt.  Trying to avoid the splotches of ice and slush.  Then it turned to rain this afternoon.  It poured when it was time to go get the kids.  My feet were soaked, my legs were soaked.  And it was a cold rain.  Yuck.  Now I'm praying that it doesn't turn our development and driveway into a skating rink tomorrow morning, cause the main roads will be cleared and we'll be expected to go to work.

I'm ready for spring.  I'm ready for my flowers, to dig my hands into the dirt.  I want to sit on my front porch and watch the neighbors pass by.  I want to work on my back porch.  I'm ready.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Getting my mojo back

I didn't really make any resolutions for this year.  I just vowed to go back to what I was doing before.  Doing what worked.  Sort of.  And so far, I'm doing pretty good at that.

I've never been a big TV watcher, but over the last few months I started getting sucked in...even when I was bored by what I watched. 

I used to make a list of things I wanted to get done and then tackle them in a timely fashion. 

I used to remember important things, like that my car needs an oil change, PB has band on Friday, and what day the trash went out.

I used to try and eat healthy and move a little and drink water.

But the last year?  Not so much.  Since October?  Very little.

This it the toll deployment has taken on me.  We spent the year prior to his D date preparing for this year.  Finding people to care for our yard, spending as much time as possible as a family doing fun things, getting a few important things done around the house.  The rest of it, we just let it go.  And I'm not saying that what we did is wrong (or right), it's just what we did.  And then he left.  And I lived on the computer so I could chat with him, and the television was good background to (maybe) entertain me.

But I have at least 7 months left, and I've found that old me a little again. I'm still forgetting things, and I'll still procrastinate (like that will change after 35, but I'm accomplishing things.  I'm taking my lunch, and cooking a healthy dinner more than 2 nights a week.  The laundry is staying done, and I'm tackling projects.  Last weekend I painted my powder room, and this weekend I tied up some loose sewing ends and played in the park with my kids and nephew.

I've stepped away from my blog a bit, and I'm trying to actually live that life that I need to give me blog fodder.  So look for pics of my powder room, and stories of days of park play.  And more about the ache I feel missing my husband, and how I'm working through it. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our inaugural experience.

Last night, Monster, PB and I attended a once in a lifetime event.  My husband is serving in Iraq with the 261st Tactical Signal Brigade.  Beau Biden is a member of this unit, and is currently serving with my husband.  His father and stepmother invited the family members of the unit to attend the Kids Inauguration concert last night at the Verizon Center.  They provided bus transportation to and from the venue as well as securing tickets for all that wanted to attend. 

I was advised that this invitation was being extended several weeks ago.  At that time, we knew nothing other than it would be a concert.  No idea who would be performing.  We had to commit to attending without knowing.  Even at that point, I felt this was a once in a lifetime event for my children and myself.  To attend any part of the inaugural festivities is a big deal.  We committed, and I stressed to anyone I talked to that they should also go if it all possible.  Late last week, the lineup was announced...Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.  I truly about fell over dead.  I had found out that Disney was co-spoonsoring this event with Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, but I never dared to hope that it would be such big name performers. 

We travelled to DC by bus.  The normal 2 1/2 hour trip took us almost 4 hours.  The amount of people, cars, and busses in that town is mind-boggling.  You think you can imagine it, but you can't.  We sat at one light for 30 minutes, watching it cycle, blocks away from our destination.  Eventually, we were given a police escort to get us through.   What an amazing  Once there, we were welcomed by a member of Biden's staff.  He gave us gorgeous tickets, working very hard to make sure that families were given tickets together.  We were escorted inside and shown to our seats.  We had good seats and the show started almost as soon as we took them.  A Disney employee came out and fired up the crowd, and then Miley came out to open the show.  The screaming was deafening.  Throughout the night, we enjoyed performances and commentary by many actors and artists...Miley Cyrus, Bow Wow, Jamie Foxx, Rosario Dawson, Queen Latifah, Lucy Liu, George Lopez, Demi Lovato, and Corbin Bleu.

Dr. Biden was introduced by her granddaughter, Naomi.  Naomi did a wonderful job, appearing very poised and calm.  Dr. Biden spoke briefly, mentioning that they were also a military family, and then introduced Michelle Obama.  She also spoke about military families, and the struggles we endure during deployments.

The highlight for me was when Queen Latifah was on stage.  Several family members from our unit were brought on stage with her, and we had a link up with their soldiers in Iraq.  Each member was able to give a short message to their loved favorite was the little one that said "I don't have anything to say."  It was a moment that made me swell with pride.  I am proud to be a military family, and sometimes that gets lost.

We didn't arrive back at the unit until 1:30 in the morning, and I was very thankful that the kids didn't have school today. 

Although I didn't feel strongly in favor of either of the Presidential candidates back in the election, I feel strongly now that we must support our President.  I can appreciate the historical nature of everything happening right now.  And I am moved by this.  I've watched several interviews with Michelle Obama, and she speaks of helping military families.  She talks about President Obama reducing the amount of time military members are deployed.  I hope that these aren't just passing speeches.  We need more home time, shorter deployments.  All the special activities in the world don't make up for your mom or dad or spouse being away from you for a year at a time. 

The country today is in a desperate state.  I worry about my job, our finances, what we are leaving to our children.  And although I feel that we have made a significant breakthrough electing the first African-American President, I still do not feel the sense of hope that many others feel.  He is just one man, and he is not God.  And his powers are still limited.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Today, I feel like a bad mother

(Disclaimer...I know I am a good mother, and I'm not looking for validation here.  But I've let a few things lapse the last couple of weeks, and I need to come clean to relinquish my

I just received an email from PB's band teacher.  She hasn't been to practice or full band since Christmas break, and they have a concert in two she still interested, or is she giving it up?  Uhm, I'm pretty sure she's interested, but band is on Friday, and by Thursday night, we are a house just trying to survive until Friday night.  Plus, she isn't the most organized person, and she forgets things often.  Things like the lunch we just packed and I reminded her to pick up, and she says, "I know" and walks off without remembering to grab said lunchbox.  Yup.  So I think it's more a matter of "whoops, crap, I forgot" when she gets to school and it's too late to do anythign about it.

So I'll talk to her tonight, and see where she stands.  And somehow I'll program my Thursday night brain to remember that band is on Friday.  But with that email came a metric butt load of guilt.  Because I've been feeling a little like I'm phoning it in lately. 

Single parenting is hard.  This isn't a surprise to pretty much anyone, I'm sure, most especially not me.  But this time is harder for me in some ways.  I feel like I've lost my mind.  I can't remember things, can't get motivated to get things done.  I'm constantly back tracking, trying to catch the ball I dropped.  And it sucks! 

Only 8-9 more months. Hopefully, I don't kill a child or burn down the house before then. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Handmade childrens gifts becoming extinct?

On February 10, 2009 the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act will be in effect.  This legislation will require third party testing for children's toys, clothing, etc.  Go here and read what it entails (they say it much better than I ever could.) 

I'm not normally an activist type, but this touches very close to home.  I've written to my legislators, I've signed the petitions, I've voted. Other places for more information include Etsy, Cool Mom Picks, and a gallery of endagered items at Endangered Whimsy

Please, take a moment to vote (voting ends at 5 pm EST Jan 15th...go now!), to email your legislators, whatever it takes.  This must not go into effect without changes being made to the act. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Did you hear? The economy sucks

This deployment? It was a necessary evil for this family. The extra income (that will come eventually, after we pay down the cost of him going in the first place) is going to help us decrease our debt load and make our life a little easier. We are both very lucky with our current employment situation, as we both work in relatively stable positions...I don't see the need for military members to decrease any time soon, and I work for the state government. Our outgoing and incoming Governors both agree that lay-offs are only a last resort, and I have enough time in to feel secure in my seniority. That doesn't mean that I'm totally immune, and I remember that fact.

My SIL isn't fairing so well. Her employer outsourced her whole division (customer service) to Mumbai last year. Although she knew it was coming, it happened at one of the worst times possible. Positions at the level she was at are non-existent right now, and when she interviews for positions that might be consisered below that level, she's told she's too qualified. People don't want to take the chance that she is going to leave for greener pastures...she just wants a job.

Now my BFF is worried. She just bought her first house, and today she found out that her company will be having lay-offs. First come the voluntary ones...those people who want out, or who are close to retirement, whatever the reason, they want to go and will take the chance while it's available. After that, they will determine where else they will cut. And while she has some seniority, and there should be a need for her area after the cuts, you just never know. Of course she's freaked out, and other than the normal "Pollyanna" comments, I'm just not sure what to say to her. Of course, she'll be in my thoughts and prayers...but, that doesn't really help to alleviate her well founded fears.

I am glad that my husband and I waited to buy our first house. We could have gotten ourselves in over heads, buying a more expensive house, or buying earlier and getting a non-traditional mortgage, but we didn't. We may have paid a little more for our house, but it seems to be holding its value, and we aren't looking to go anywhere anytime soon. And my friend did the same thing...everything about her getting this house said it was the right time and place for her. I really hope that she is able to keep it all. Basically, I think that it sucks that those of us who worked hard to do things the "right way" are now having to pay for all those who chose to live the high life.

Another friend has a neighbor that bought a house on an "iffy" mortgage. The rate went up, they couldn't afford it, they were bailed out, and she's showing off her new Coach bag the next day.

I knew that the bubble was going to burst, and I really think that we all needed a reality check. I just hope that those I know and love are able to stay afloat until better times.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kids say, edition 2?

My kids crack me up on a daily basis. Here are a few things they've said/done recently that made me chuckle out loud.

PB to Monster - How can you forget Valentine's Day? It's such a pink, lovable holiday.

Whenever my husband finds some disaster the Monster has wrought, he calls him by yelling "BOY!". Last night, we were discussing how Monster wanted to use daddy's tools to make our car be able to change form, like a transformer. I mentioned that if he tried to get near the cars with daddy's tools, he would come over from Iraq to beat his butt. Monster thought on this for a bit, then commented "we couldn't transform when daddy was with us, cause then he would know that I used his tools, and he would say "BOOOOOYYYY!!"

This morning, I got out of the shower to find the boy standing there. "Mama, I set out your clothes for you, including the necklace I made for you when I was just a baby." He had chosen a pair of olive Khakis, a flannel plaid Tigger nightgown, a bra and a pair of underwear. I have to give him credit for remembering everything, and for trying to take care of his mama.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Communication 101

Mir is apparently my muse this week. For Love Thursday today, she wrote about her daughter, a science project, and notes. And it planted a seed...

I've been trying to find a way to communicate with PB. Really communicate. It's so hard to find quiet, one on one time, and usually when we have it, we just snuggle. And that's good, but there are things I need her to know. Things I need to say, guidance I need to give. And while reading about Chickadee and her sharing emails, I realized...I can start writing her notes. Something she can keep (she hoards paper like it's gold) and re-read when she needs to. Something that shows that she is in my thoughts, even when she isn't with me, that I love her.

I'm off to work on the first one now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

the final step in the awakening

I was struggling with what to post today. There are so many things I want to talk about, and so little time and energy to do so right now. But then I read this post by Mir, and I knew.  Mir did an awesome job explaining to her daughter the relationship pitfalls of preteen girls.  And then I thought about how this applies to our lives even as adults.

We all have toxic people in our lives...and many of us have to learn to cut those people out, it possible, or reduce our exposure to them if not.

My parents were divorced when I was very young.  My mom raised me with very little financial assistance or input from my father.  He was a person that I saw once a year (maybe) for a few days.  This brought out  myriad of emotions throughout my childhood...anger, hurt, self-doubt, apathy, you name it, it was there at some point.

When I turned 16, I wrote him a letter and basically gave him an either have a daughter, or not, but it was decision time.  He suddenly became interested.  I visited a few times over the next couple of years. My dad had been remarried for the second time at this point, and my stepmom had a son that was a year older than me.  My father had adopted him.  Nope, that didn't annoy me, not at all (I don't lie well in real life either.)  My stepmom and I had an okay relationship.  A lot about her annoyed me, but I was good at letting it roll right on over my head.

I graduated from college, and like a dummy followed a boy.  After a year of living in a neighboring state with him and his crazy parents, I had to get out.  My dad was one small state (2 hours) away, my mom was several states and 12 hours away.  I moved in with my father to save money and figure out where I wanted to go with my life.  I met my husband and here I am.

When my husband and I were engaged, my stepmom (and therefore my father) wanted to pay for my wedding.  I agreed as long as I still had control...I didn't want wildly expensive, but I wanted what I like, not what someone else did.  We couldn't really afford a photographer, so we asked a sort of relative to take them.  I bought good film, lots of it.  It was videotaped.

I've never seen that video tape, and all the pictures of my husband and I alone are missing.  My stepmom came into our house while we were on our honeymoon and took them to be developed.  Then she kept her copy, plus the extras of quite a few.  She also had the "photographer" use cheap film she had and kept the good film.

Over the next year or so, many other things happened.  A rift formed.  I started to see a trend.  Between myself, my stepbrother, and my half sister (from the middle marriage), one of us had to be the "bad child."  And since I didn't bow down, and I wasn't financially dependent on her, I wouldn't play that game.  Eventually, I just stopped trying.  They lived less than a mile away from us, and we never saw them.  PB was 6 days old before they saw her, and that was because they stopped early in the morning to tell me they were moving to Kansas.  That was it.  A year or so later I tried  reconciliation, and after a couple of years, I found out how badly I was being treated, and that was it.  I haven't spoken to them since.

My father has never seen my son.  He hasn't seen PB since she was a toddler, and Bug since she was in early elementary school.  Every so often, I stop and think about this.  I test the wound to see how raw it is.  I wonder if I need to check on him...I think how I will feel when someday I find out he is gone.  And I've realized that while I'll feel sad, I don't think I will regret my decision.  It's one thing to screw with my feelings, but I won't let anyone hurt my children that way.  It makes me sad that they won't know as much about my father's family, as they were an important part of my childhood (I was the baby of all the grandkids...can you say spoiled rotten?)  But I see this as an example of cutting those toxic people out of our lives.

My MIL asked me over the holidays if I wanted to send him a letter, tell him all he is missing, show him all we have become.  And sometimes, that answer is yes.  Because he is my father, and sometimes I am that little girl that just wants his attention.  But then the adult quickly takes over and shuts that door. 

I have a great life.  I have people in my life that love me, that will do almost anything for me.  I have a wonderful husband, awesome children, a nice house and car and a good job.  I am a good person, and I've learned finally that I don't need his approval, or attention. 

Monday, January 05, 2009

I am still alive

I'm sorry I haven't been a very good blog citizen the last two weeks.  It started because I was busy...this single parent gig sucks at the Holidays.  And then it just felt okay to ignore the computer for the most part.  But I've been around.  And I have a few things to post about.  Today's topic seems to be a popular one lately...New Year's being about changes and resolutions.

Heather at Oh My Stinkin Heck has removed her blog.  I'm not going to say that it was a was a surprise that she was removing it all together, but I've felt that blogging was becoming a chore for her lately.  I'm glad that she was able to make the right decision for her, but, wow, will I miss her blog.

Several other people have posted in the last few days about cutting down on screen time.  I signed up for Blog 365 in 2008, and I think I almost managed to make it.  I'm not that crazy this year.  That year was helpful, it helped me really think about my blog.  But I know I need to be able to not post, and it be okay.

I'm also going to admit something here...I spend way too much time online at work.  It's sort of become like an addiction, and I have to stop it.  That is my one's not a New Year's one...I made it before the Holidays.  I just knew that I wouldn't actually be starting it until after my Holiday vacation, and so tomorrow, it begins.

I have lots of other topics to right were our Holidays, what I've read and watched, rearranging and mild remodeling of our house.  Be patient dear reader, it will come.  I swear.