Sunday, March 27, 2011

A week later

Training has been great, I'm learning the tools and methods I need(ed) desperately. I feel a change coming at work, a positive change. Being gone, living in a hotel room all week feels a little like summer camp. I'm home for the weekend and going back today- yesterday we took the kids on a 6 plus mile bike ride. It was great and relaxing to be outside in the sunshine.

Men's Legacy Schwinn
Michael had gotten me a bicycle from Sears Grand, received a huge discount because a screw was missing from the back fender platform. I rode it Friday evening and had to walk home with a broken bicycle just from riding around our neighborhood- the gears snapped and damaged the entire back tire. I dragged the bike home, loaded it on the bicycle rack and took it back to Sears for an immediate refund. Then I drove to Target to purchase the super-ugly purple paisley Schwinn that was a dream to ride but ugly to look at. I couldn't do it. I got a Men's bicycle instead, a simple Legacy Schwinn.

Nantucket Lightship Tapered basket
I added the Nantucket Bicycle basket ( I did get the exact one) and voila- my new bicycle! It's perfect for me. Not too girly, it feels great riding, especially cruising, perfect for keeping up with the kids. I cannot believe the 7 gear bicycle broke, I blame Michael- he said that he didn't trust the geared bicycles because they have always broken on him. I haven't had that problem, until now and it's because he jinxed me. Lol.

One more week of training and then back to normal life. I really don't want to leave again but I want the training. It's weird to come home, unpack and get into regular routine just to pack and leave again so shortly. I've never had a per Diem or had to worry about filling out an expense report but it's nice to be on a pseudo-vacation with other people in the same position. I've met many others in the same position as myself and  usually we wouldn't be able to spend the time amount of time we're able to. Right now, we're a group of 5 women with a few different add-ons from class as they feel like it. Regardless, every morning the five of us meet to get breakfast and coffee, then lunch and after class...dinner. I don't think I've gotten back to my hotel room before 9pm all week. We're already planning to get together when training is over, for a regular sanity night.

I'm the only one in the group of women who doesn't have marital problems, who actually wants to spend time with her husband. I break off from them to talk to the kids every night and wait until I retire for the night to call Michael to talk. It's different for me to be on this side, I've always been the one who loved being with other women and as far away from my (ex) husband as possible. I try not to talk about Michael or our relationship too much. Who wants to hear how wonderful he is or we are when you're dealing with your own problems? I've been there- hearing how wonderful someone else's relationship is while living in h-e-double hockey sticks. When I heard others talking about their happy relationships: One, I was happy for them. Two, I wondered how much was actually TRUE. Three, it made me depressed to think that their life was normal and my wasn't and there wasn't anything I could DO about it. So then I would just imagine that they are playing it up---making it better than what it actually was.

Back at home, our crepe myrtle is filling with green leaves and we'll have flowers soon.  Our strawberries are doing well and our gardening adventures are yielding beautiful results! The front porch is my new favorite place to be.

Gotta go pack. Again.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Michael had a life-saving idea for me regarding work. Use a notebook, write everything down and stop driving yourself crazy by trying (and unsuccessfully) keeping everything in your head. This past week although I was Ms. Busy Bee running around accomplishing tasks that I will not be able to do in the next two weeks- was calm.

Situations arose, I wrote it down. I write down what I want to do before I get to work and I check it off as it gets accomplished. After the day is done, I write final notes about what happened, in case I didn't take the time to do it when it happened and do my list for the next day.

A sigh of relief. I feel so ON TOP of things. AND I have documentation of what I observed. I'm in charge of so many different things and managing six people is not easy. I call it 'my brain'. No, not Animaniac's Brain who is trying to take over the world but literally my brain on paper. Michael said I woke him up in the middle of the night asking him if he was the one who shut the vault and that I said some type of combination in my sleep. I had an issue at work where people were shutting the vault before doing the daily audit of items that had to be stored INSIDE the vault. So new rule, whoever shuts the vault is responsible for making sure ALL the daily items are audited. It was the night before the team meeting that I woke him up.

Michael went to his grandfather's house and raked up their pinestraw, brought it back and bordered the house with it. Very resourceful! It looks great. We're very happy this Spring with our landscaping although I would love to plant more, especially roses and sunflowers. It can wait, it gets expensive and it's a lot of hard work, especially pulling up sod. What is really stopping me is the fact I have to call the gas company, water company, etc to mark where their lines are so I don't damage anything.

We love sitting on our front porch now, listening to the fountain and talking. We've been out there many nights in the last week. I've been tempted to stretch out and read on the porch couch but I've got too much to do.

Michael took Camille to her dad's house Friday and picked up my two 84" bookcases that he's been keeping for me since I left ex in 2009. My books can now come OUT of boxes!!! Although I've donated many, I still have a lot and when I look in the boxes, it's like seeing old friends. Sorting through the books will be another day's project, today I have to prepare to leave for a week.

I'm in training 3 hours away from home for the next week, no internet (unless I pay $9.95/each 24 hours) and no TiVo. I'm going to the library today to get:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I'm currently reading Good Grief by Lolly Winston. I really enjoyed Happiness Sold Separately although like many books I feel the author rushed the ending. It seems authors decide at some point in the book that they need to wrap it up and start the ending. A slow build and WHAM- gotta end the story, leaving loose ends or not. I wanted to get Water for Elephants too but it's not available at this time. I hope the shelf copies of the other two titles will still be there when I get there today.

A hotel room to myself without internet (I was hoping to at least have Skype and Netflix streaming!) is sort of scary. I haven't even been away from Michael for a week the entire time I've known him. The kids go to their dads' and although I miss them like crazy- I'm used to it now. I told him that I would have to re-arrange the pillows to make a fake him in order to be able to sleep and that I wanted to take one of his t-shirts. He laughed and said he'd spray cologne for me but it's not the same. I wish I could take them all with me; Camille, Danny, Michael and Winston. They could explore the area while I was in the classroom and we could swim in the pool at night. I do plan on working out in the hotel gym and I'm relishing that thought!

The kids are loving riding their bikes and Michael and I haven't been able to join in due to the fact that we don't have working bikes ourselves. My bike works but the seat keeps moving on me, it's a 10+ year old NEXT ten speed that I got from Walmart. The seat is one thing but the bike hurts my back now. Yesterday, (without kids) Michael and I went to: Dick's Sporting Goods, Target, Walmart #1, Bicycle Shop #1, Bicycle Shop #2, Sears, Sports Authority, Kmart, Walmart #2, Walmart #3 and finally back to Target looking at bikes for ourselves. 10 DIFFERENT stores! We didn't buy a single bike either- Michael needs one too.

We have a 6 mile bike/walking trail less than 0.5 mile from our house and we want to take all 4 kids on a biking/picnic day next weekend. Hannah has shed her training wheels!!! Today I have to go to another Sears to see if they have my chosen bicycle in stock or if I have to order it. There is a difference in bikes, more than I knew- but after 10 stores- I figured it out. The handbars- the way they are angled, the angle of the bike seat to the pedals, and the overall length between your torso and the handlebars makes a big difference. We're in the market for cruisers which was a HUGE adjustment for me. I've only ever had mountain bikes and 10 speeds- never a single speed since I was 5 and I had the banana seat bicycle.

Michael finally broke down and ordered a Micargi bicycle from a California bike shop.

I can't just order from a bicycle shop, I had to try all the different bikes and narrow it down to the one I wanted. This is a Schwinn Windwood cruiser. The handbars make a HUGE difference to me and the seat is very nice. I saw this bike in our search adventure but it was BLAZING PINK. I also found another Schwinn that was SUPER comfortable but it had purple paisley stickers ALL over it, including its fenders. I cannot ride a paisley explosion bicycle. It's not me.

Here's the pink version of the same bicycle...

Nope, not happening. I'm too tomboy to ride this. It is very pink, neon pink bright- something about the paint Michael told me. It has flecks in it that make it neon in bright light. I'm adding a nice basket, a cup holder and maybe speakers if I can finagle the speaker to mount after I put the front basket on. A good one, a tight woven one. It might not be this exact one but this is the 'look' I want.

Eventually, we'll get a pet basket for Winston- probably sooner than later...

but not in pink...

Okay off to pack and do a little running around. Michael is fishing today with one of his brothers- the kids are back tonight and I have a little "me" time. Gotta get to it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Family Project

Our home after winter's ravage.

A few Christmas Cheer Azaleas, Indian Feather Pink Cloud (Gaura lindheimeri) that will outgrow the azaleas and fill in very nicely but can be controlled by pruning.

I guess the kids' flowers can't really be seen, they all chose an annual to plant. We also planted strawberries. I had to give the Azaleas and Pink Cloud room to grow, I'm sure it'll fill in soon. Our sky pencil has grown since last summer and our blueberry bush survived winter. It has flowers now, I hope it will yield blueberries again, my mom says I need another blueberry bush for it to cross pollinate.

Spring 2011
We need to poly-urethane the kids' stepping stones and add them still. Our natchez Crepe myrtle is doing well, I'm going to prune it a little. It will bloom in May/June and keep blooming through September. 

The kids rode their bikes and flew kites in the field next to our home. I think we all got sun today.

Okay, this is Sunday's update to the yard. I found a deal on a fountain, it was on sale and I got another 10% off because someone had purchased it and brought it back (why, no idea). I assessed it with a Home Depot employee, all the parts were there and we actually put it completely together before I left the store. He said I could bring it back if something was wrong with it as long as I kept my receipt. Sorry, I'm keeping it. A few bags of pond pebbles later and voila....

Spring 2011, final
I have the 'garden' front porch I've always wanted. It feels like a sanctuary! We can watch the kids outside riding their bikes, flying kites or just drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. Camille says we have the best curb appeal in the neighborhood now. Wait until the neighbor on the corner starts working out in his yard- I've never seen a man who works out in his yard every. single. day. doing something the way this man does.

I look at Saturday morning's picture of our barren front and can't believe how different it looks. Wait, yes, I can believe it- my arms and back is feeling all the difference.

Springing Forward

Sunday is probably the fastest day of the week. We have Caitlyn and Hannah with us this weekend and they go back home this afternoon. It seems every hour just flies by unlike Saturdays. Time sprang ahead one hour and the time seems even shorter.

It seems like just a few hours before bedtime tonight, a sense of what we should have done with our weekend hours, a momentary flash of regret before we spring into action. The kids are going outside to ride their bikes in the cool yet warm day. Michael's family will be calling to see where to meet for lunch so they can see the girls before they go home. Then shortly after, the girls will go with Michael on trek to take them home while Camille, Danny and I wrestle the house back into submission after a weekend of four kids running from bedroom to bedroom- playing imaginary games, real games, and trying to decide what movie or game to play every other 15 minutes or the endless peace-keeping mission Michael and I find ourselves in with confident and vocal children.

Tomorrow is Monday and my work week is going to be stressful. I'm going to training for two weeks, four hours away, starting the week after. This week at work is going to be filled with tons of pressure to get three weeks' worth of work done in two weeks' and I doubt anyone will stop needing something at the spur of the moment. I'm making my list today of what I need to accomplish for the week so I can knock it out as I go. I've never been to training that has taken me away from my daily work and home life like this training is going to. I keep telling myself it will seem like a vacation, nothing but sitting in a classroom during the day and spending my nights at a hotel with all resemblance of daily life gone.

I'm going to miss the kids terribly, although I will call every night and find out how their days went- we'll probably use Skype if I can get my webcam working again. I'm going to miss Michael and Winston and just our life, which is so sweet. Sitting here thinking about it coming up, it seems like it will be long tedious two weeks but I know once I get into it, it will fly and I will wonder why I didn't try to enjoy it more.

I'll be back on weekends, just gone Monday-Friday for two weeks and then I'll be back with the newly added pressure of, "oh, but you've been to training..." at work. I have to laugh. Yep, I went to training and I'm newly minted an expert now, see my gold star? Whatever.

I'm off to fill the house with music and sunshine and enjoy our Sunday...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Art of Marriage

Today after another day in court, read about it at Trivium Academy, Michael and I stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch and I found a print for our home, The Art of Marriage. It is based on Wilfred A. Peterson's poem, albeit truncated.

"The Art Of Marriage"
by Wilferd A. Peterson (short, popular version)
Compliments Of Erik & Beth Kent, Co-Publishers of
A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage the little things are the big things...
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say "I love you" at least once each day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and
demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right partner...
It is being the right partner.

It's perfect, for us and our bedroom. We bought a gecko in Mexico, colorful and bright and we've decided to make our bedroom the same to remind us of our cruise last year and to have a sense of happiness when we're in the room. The picture below is from our cabin, it's on the right next to the conch shells we collected in Honduras and a turtle carved of slate from the mountains of Belize.

What a perfect find for us, especially today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Treasured Moment

The kids made stepping stones for the garden, their handprints with names and jewels designed their way. Here's some pictures of them creating them in January.

My favorite gift from Christmas, spending time with the kids, making a memory. We're going to polyurethane them so they can be in our walk up to the front door.

What Happened to You?

Morning of 3/7/2011
Her eye is healing well. It's hard to see her this way. Camille said EVERYone asked her at school today what happened, and she told them that she got into a fight with a basketball goal and the basketball goal won. Her eye is less swollen this evening and she's doing so well at cleaning the cut herself. Thank you for your well wishes and prayers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hi I'm Michael

Jessica said I had to post. I don't know what she wants me to post about. I was thinking I would just get on here and write a bunch of pause dots... what?...

I spent the week painting, cleaning and organizing our garage. Jessica said she wanted to be able to pull her car into it and she hasn't been able to since we moved here last April because the garage was our unseen storage unit.


Wait, I have to download Photobucket to my Droid to get the picture to upload. Jessica has been doing something else to get pictures on here. Last year we were able to upgrade at Verizon and I convinced her to get the Droids, I got the X and she got the Droid 2 with the slide keyboard. She loved her LG Env3 and kept fighting me that she didn't need a smartphone. I think she uses hers more than I use mine but we got them because I needed internet access for work email. The kids now use the Env3 as their phone. She doesn't like to admit it but she loves her phone.

This week was good, I got a lot done. I worked on our lawn mower- replaced the fuel line, blade, filter and cleaned out the engine. It runs like new, one pull and it roars to life. If I could get it to self-propel like it's supposed to...

Schwinn 430 Elliptical TrainerJess wanted to park her car, she complains whenever there is frost or ice on her car. "I wish I could have parked in the garage." So, I made her a spot and then when I tell her I don't know where I'm going to put my weight bench that is still at my mom's house, she says put it where the car would go. ARGH! Woman! She wants to put an elliptical machine in there too, when we bite the bullet and get her one. She wants a Schwinn but she won't buy it for herself. She has a hard time buying anything for herself.

Shun Ken Onion DM0504 10-Inch Slicing Knife
I've been watching cooking shows to become better and Paula Deen has got it made. She's got the Kill Bill hattori-something knife to chop everything, the fridgerated drawer right at her station and she used a whole stick of butter mashed rutabaga. Oooh, this, oooh that. If you're a guy, you know where I'm going with this...the woman talks like she's... She's less annoying to me than the Neely's and the way they go on.

 Jess and I get to spend the weekend alone, Friday was horrible with Camille getting hurt. Saturday (yesterday) was my faux-bro's birthday. Our family adopted him in high school and he came to live with us. We had a family get together last night and after a couple hours of Dead Space 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops with the split screen- whadya expect when 5 guys get together, it was time to go. My younger bro and faux bro went out and we headed home. We were talking about games coming out and my cousin pulled out his GameInformer out and Jess started laughing when she saw the cover.

What's so funny? She said that we play the same game just we packaged with a few different elements, over and over again. We were playing Black Ops. She laughed and called us all a bunch of 'suckas'. (Jessica: Really, what is the difference between Call of Duty, Battlefield, HomeFront- it's all the same game just packaged a little differently!!!)

Until later...

Update to Kid's Art page

Click on Kid's Art tab above to see the new additions!

Watching Weeds

Season 6. Just as I wanted to write how awesome the writing is in this season, we watched a few episodes last night that make me shirk away from that comment. We're on disc 3 of season 6 and the desire to watch the next episode is waning. The season started off strong, each episode had the cliffhanger at the end and because we're watching them on DVD, we don't have to wait for next week's episode.

JTress wrote a blog post about this that I agree, it's a crazy show where you have to suspend some belief and just get wrapped up into the story.

Michael and I got extra pleasure as the Botwins/Newmans pose as a traveling ministry.

The Botwins/Newmans continue their life on the run, purchasing a RV from a woman whose pastor-husband seems to have run afoul of the law. She is selling cheap and the Botwins are in a buying mood – even though the RV has “God is Awesome” emblazoned across the side and is filled with s#x toys and Israeli g@y p0rn. The family stops at an out of the way trailer park full of interesting people that are on the run as well. Andy decides to play up the God RV and pretend to be a pastor to bilk their new neighbors out of money. (Pasted from link)
We laughed so hard as we watched Andy pretending to be a pastor, using the faux voice while baptizing a RV park deviant at the request (and paid money) of his mom, Sugarpop.  Of course, Sugarpop's baby appears a little later high on m#th in his underwear and Sugarpop is demanding her baptism fee back while, "You said you would cleanse him of his sins!" The Botwins/Newmans are chased out of the RV park (among other reasons) with all the money Shane/Shawn collected for upcoming memorial services, baptisms, marriages, etc. I personally have heard the 'faux' voice too many times...

The main character, Nancy Botwin (Nathalie Newman) is a "what in the world is she thinking?" character with moments of brilliance or pure luck for being able to weasel her way out of situations continuously. I just read Season 7 might be the last...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The dangers of neighborhood bball

Camille went to play with the neighbors who have a basketball goal, the portable type. Within 15 minutes Danny was screaming for Michael because Sissy was hurt. Camille had tried to dunk the ball like the other kids and held onto to the goal which fell on her. She was hurt and it wasn't until she looked at her the blood on her hands that she screamed. Michael called me (at work) while she was screaming to let know she was hurt and they were going to the emergency room. I asked him if the sound was an ambulance, "no, it's Camille screaming," he said.

Michael was outside in the garage so he heard Danny's yelling immediately from two doors down. He responded quickly and he handled the situation the best way he could in the circumstances. Although Camille was screaming her head off he handled her with patience and did everything right.

I drove frantically while trying to call Camille's dad to let him know she was hurt although I didn't have all the details. I arrived at the hospital and when I saw her, I was scared and enraged. What happened? That's when I found out all the details.

She was so brave, getting stitches, a CT scan and I was so grateful it wasn't worse. She has a black eye, stitches, a large knot on the back of head, and a broken thumb. She didn't pass out so she only had a mild concussion, nothing to be worried about the doctor told us. When we returned, I went to the mother of the kid (her house) and told her what happened. I took Camille with me so she could see what happened to Camille.These conversations are hard, you want to show your outrage but you realize that coming across too strongly will cause the other person to be defensive.

She tried to blame Camille for the accident. I then politely said she might want to fill the base with sand before it injures another child. She told Camille to leave the dunking to the boys. NEVER MIND the fact that if the basketball goal had been properly secured, no child should have gotten hurt (it's called gross negligence). A little left over rant...

Camille and I walked away and I told her it wasn't her fault. "I know Mom, too bad she thinks girls are weaker, she doesn't know that you and I are able to do anything a boy could." Atta girl! She's fine and she's enjoying the attention from everyone asking, "what happened to you?" Her dad showed up right after we left the hospital and Camille got treated to her favorite food, sushi. With instructions, mederma and pain medicine in hand, Camille left to have a weekend with her dad. What a Friday.

First post written on cellphone, came back and filled in details and corrected when Camille screamed (at blood in her hands, not reflection).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's WifeI finished The Time Traveler's Wife last night. First I would like to say that I'm grateful the book is organized around Clare's chronology! I couldn't imagine being able to keep up with Henry's time travel if the author hadn't.

I haven't read fiction in a while and this book was mesmerizing. The author did a good job of keeping me engaged and involved in the story. I didn't cry at the end though. I think this is the first love story that I didn't feel personally jilted in my own life versus the fictional love story. In many ways the intimacy between Henry and Clare reminded me of Michael and I. In the published version I read there is a Reading Group guide in the book with questions but I'm not going to explore those. I do wish the author had explored more about Clare after 2007, there was a gap of 40+ years of Clare's life that I'm still curious about. I know this was Henry's story however.
The Time Traveler's Wife

I'm ready to watch the movie now. My friend told me that she loved the movie and when she saw I was reading the book, she asked if the book was good, "yes very," I answered. She now wants to read the book as well although she's seen the movie already. I did not imagine Rachel McAdams as Clare or Eric Bana as Henry when I read the book and I'm grateful for that. I hope Eric Bana captures Henry well...

Next book borrowed from the library to read: Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors, a fictional story about the Taj Mahal.

I think I'm on a debut novel kick, The Time Traveler's Wife was Niffenegger's first book, as is Beneath a Marble Sky for Shors. Hmm. The Current Reading List: