23 January 2016

A Different Kind of Friday Night Dinner

I'm beyond happy to tell you that baby Five has arrived.  He was nearly a week late and after putting his mom through four days of progressive labor, he arrived at a fighting weight of 9 lbs 6 oz and 20.4 inches tall.  His hands and feet are ginormous and he looks just like his daddy.

His mama is doing great and happy to be home.  She so impressed me with her strength and grace.  The girl made hardly any noise during labor.  Not a curse word, not a scream, not even a complaint.   She had 30 minutes hard labor and ended the evening like she didn't just birth a giant baby.  It was as if she'd merely had an unpleasant dental experience.

At one point, She mentioned that it was too quiet.  I asked her if she wanted some music but a contraction hit so she couldn't answer.  After the contraction ended, Nephew asked her "How about some Skrillex?" then proceeded to "Cats.Boots.Cats.Boots.Cats.Boots" beat box.  We were cracking up laughing.  This is an example of how the evening went.

My nephew stood in it the whole way, he never wavered.  I was so proud of him, I could burst.  He didn't get grossed out (his words), he helped her when she needed it and more importantly, gave her space when she wanted it.  He made jokes that made everyone laugh.unfortunately extensive knowledge of hospital rooms and stays, he knew what to do to make her comfortable before she even really knew she needed it.  He adjusted her IV, he knew how to pack her pillows around her, and knew how to read the monitors.  He knew how to ask things from the nurses and doctors without seeming like the demanding, overbearing husband.

So, details.  She had been partially dilated, fully effaced, and having contractions the whole week.  Finally at 4:00 they went to the hospital when contractions were consistently five minutes apart.  The family arrived over the next hour and by 5:30, things were getting real.

However, her water wouldn't break.  All the other things were happening but her water wouldn't let go.  They did it for her and let her progress.  Then her cervix would only open fully on one side.  So, with the threat of pitocin lingering, they put her in a few different poses to help facilitate the process and told us that after an hour they would have to intervene. 

Right as we were nearing the one hour mark, I went out of the room for a moment.  The nurse asked how she was doing and I told her that her contractions were pretty consistent but that you wouldn't know it because you would think she was just resting.  The nurse said she would check on her again in a few minutes.

When I returned, the nurse came in and checked her.  (this is where I state the obvious: there is no such thing as dignity in the hospital, specifically during childbirth)  We watched as the nurse reached in and suddenly her eyes grew wide.  "Oh, there's the babys head!"

Suddenly there was a group of people in the room.  The baby had earlier pooed in the birth canal so they had the trauma birth team there just in case. Thirty minutes later, he was laying on his mama's chest, sucking his thumb, and looking at us like "Who the hell are you people?"

We loved the birthing team.  I don't know if  they are just quiet as a group or if they followed her lead but they were so quiet.  No raised voices, no sense of urgency, just encouragement.  They even commented about how strong she was during hard labor. 

Now, the fun stuff.  The boys weren't in the room at all.  Kevin, his brother and dad all waited out in the waiting room.  The kids were at their bio dads.  Her mom is in jail (I  think I told you that story?  in jail for the next eight years) so it was all of nephews family: his mom, his grandma (Kevin's mom), his sister, and me.  Her sister was on her way but things were happening so fast, it looked like she was going to miss it.

It turns out that she arrived on nearly the last push.  The nurse asked if she was allowed in and Niece was all "Sure, why not?" in between pushing.   I watched the sister come in, see the goings on, hesitate with goggled eyes, then with determination walk all the way into the room.  Unfortunately, the only space left was nearly head on with the delivery so we had a good giggle at that.  

Kevin's mom knew what was happening, of course, but she kept kind of losing the thread of events.  My sister-in-law gave her the tablet to play Candy Crush.  My hand to god, she sat not six feet away with a straight-on view of the birth and played Candy Crush.  Occasionally she would look up then return to her game.  At one point, she just said "Oh, he will be out with the next push" without hardly pausing her game. 

I texted Kevin a photo:
The other mother related story was right as things were starting to progress, my mother-in-laws cell phone rang.  She never has her ringer set below SHOUT and it's been a thing.  My sister-in-law snagged it out of her hands with ninja-like reflexes and shut if off.  Then she firmly put it down next to her and said "No." as if speaking to a small child.  Sister repeated "No." when she protested while the rest of us tried to hide our laughter.

I loved the maternity nurse too.  She put Nephew and I to work taking care of both his wife and the baby.  We helped bathe him, dress him, hold him while they did his bracelets, shots, and tests. Like his parents, he's the most chill baby.  He fussed a bit with his shots and he protested during the bath but he was otherwise just a happy baby.  I just so appreciated her kindness and the being given the opportunity to be hands on with him the first few minutes of his life. 

It will be one of my favorite memories watching Nephew care for his wife after delivery.  They were in their own little world and for once in my life, it was a Hallmark Channel moment to behold.  He helped clean her up like it wasn't gross, making self-deprecating jokes the whole time.  I actually heard him joke "It's like a crime scene, he murdered your vagina."  This made me laugh but I watched the nurses look at him in disbelief.  They laughed too, eventually.

There was no plan for all of us to be in the delivery room, specifically me.  I had planned on waiting outside, knowing it was going to be a quick delivery.  (she had C2 in the car on the way to the hospital)  But things did progress gradually that I was in the middle of it before I even realized what was happening.

And I wouldn't change a moment.  Because I didn't have children and I wasn't a part of any other the other births, my only frame of reference was high school biology and my Greys Anatomy medical degree.  While it wasn't angel singing, ethereal wonderfulness nor was it the melodramatic screaming and grossness.  It was fantastic and amazing.  One moment there wasn't a baby and the next there was.

Welcome to the wold little man.




10 January 2016

Photos of Gold

I am a glutton for punishment and brought home a box of photos from my parents house.  I figured that I had already sorted out quite a few into albums years ago, so it wouldn't be too bad.

And it's not, it's not a full paper box worth of photos but there were a few surprises.  Photos of my parents, who haven't seemed happy in years, actually looking happy.  Photos of me that I hadn't seen in years.  Fire department and fireworks photos that need to be shared.

One group were photos my niece found that were nearly ruined.  She showed them to me and I just asked her to throw them in the box because you never know.  I looked at them a little closer yesterday and they were of a major bridge being built here in Skagit County.  Kind of a big deal.

There was a weathered envelope in there also. I noticed that the letterhead said CAT, like in Caterpiller Heavy Equipment.  It was a photo shoot, of all things, of my grandfather on a new CAT bulldozer, building a very prominent road in Anacortes.  There was also a newspaper clipping from the shoot. 


That discovery was the biggest and best out of all.  I scanned them all in and put them on my facebook.   It was fun to share that little bit of history with everyone.

There is a jumble of old, old, old photographs of folks I have no idea whom they are.  It looks like it's from my dad's family.  As both of his parents died young-ish and left behind spouses and we had a disconnected father, we have very little information or photographs from his side of the family.  

When my great aunt died in early 2000's, my dad was the executor of the will.  This let us have unprecedented access to our past.  I have a small box of photos that I brought home, knowing that they would be lost forever if I left them anywhere but in my possession.  Otherwise, we would have nothing.

Posting these photographs on facebook gained me two cousins from that side of the family.  This will hopefully open the door to a little more sharing than ever before.

In a random little, mostly empty photo album, I found a photo that was washed out.  I think it was a dinner table set of a holiday dinner.  I think it's my grandfather, when he was still married to my grandmother.  

I scanned it and did some doctoring and can see it a little better.  But it turned into one of those horror show moments for a minute when I noticed the reflection in the mirror and then Who is that in the corner!?!?!! 

I think it's my grandma, but it could be a ghost for all I know.
So, the adventure continues.  If you don't hear from me again, it's because I lost my mind or that spooky lady in the photo has taken me.

03 January 2016

Unfinished Thoughts

I did this once before, posted unfinished posts.  I believe I borrowed the idea from the lovely Swistle. In fact, let's just assume that I have.

So, here is one year worth of unfinished thoughts.  I actually kept three posts while culling that I will make an effort to finish as they feel like they have merit.


The Day Before Christmas Eve:

Kevin decided that the kids needed more stocking stuffers so we went to the target after breakfast.  We didn't find anything that the kids really needed that was in the stocking stuffer range.  It's Christmas Eve, so things are pretty well picked through.  Also, the kids aren't into Star Wars and all the things are Star Wars right now.

A few stores down was a dollar store.  This dollar store concept fascinates Kevin.  I've only gone with him twice before, and only because there was something specific that we were looking for.  (they have a cleaner called Totally Awesome, which is probably totally radioactive, but it works really well on outside/garage-type stuff)

OH MY Sweet Tiny Baby Jesus.  $25 later.  About $12 of it wasn't for the children.  Buy All the Things ! Because $1!   But, we got some cool Spiderman color posters for the little boys, gummy worms for all the kids, a book for one of the nerd nephews (there are two), and other oddities that only kids under twelve could love.

One realization that I had is that the dollar store must be an absolute lifesaver for some families.  Kids don't always realize what costs $1 and what's $10.  With a little creativity, a person could really do a lot of gifting without spending a bunch of money.  I found myself oddly grateful for this, as we browsed around.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
November, Pre-Trip Jitters:

We leave in two days for our trip and I've reached the Anxiety Level.

This year my niece and her best friend are house and puppy sitting for us.  A person would think that this would lessen anxiety but it hasn't.  This doesn't reflect on my niece in any way, this is all on me.

In addition to worrying about stopping our mail, paying our bills early, and making sure everything is in order, now I'm fussing that I need to make sure they have food and that our sheets are changed before we leave at 7:00 in the morning and is there anything that I'm going to forget to tell them.

Fruitless worrying.  Today I was nearly disabled because I had so much to do that I couldn't even get my sh*t together.  Instead, I am going to extra busy tomorrow and the next day.  Well done, me.  I have actually become an internet meme.

And it is not like any of this is super important.  Choosing which books to take, making sure we have the toiletries we need. (they do have stores in Vegas, I know this), changing the laces in my new sneakers because this is so important. (*eye roll*)  Printing our itinerary has even thwarted me.  Seriously ridiculous.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Post Trip Gathering:

Today we went to a birthday party for one of Kevin's oldest friends.  It was at his parents house, where Kevin spent a lot of time as a kid.

It was fun to watch Kevin with his second parents and in their home.  He has known this family since he was six.  His childhood home was behind their house and across a field.  He knew that house probably as well as his own. 

But as things do, the house had changed.  It was interesting to watch him process and remember how it used to be.  It was also fun  to watch him interact with these folks, seeing glimpses of  the little boy he used to be. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Months Ago, and I'm still horrified:

The other day someone posted a horrific comment on Facebook.  I don't usually read the comments unless I know for certain that they will be positive or clever or am seeking more information.  But this comment was pointed out to me, just so I could share their dismay.  Without being specific to the situation, someone announced the gender of their baby and a person commented on how this couple shouldn't have children. Like, ever.

My friend wondered if it was perhaps an inside joke and that we all shouldn't be so horrified. (it was posted on a mutual friends page)  I thought that if it was an inside joke then that almost made it worse. Because we, and others, don't understand that it was an inside joke. Imagine the mother-in-law reading that, or the cousin who lives on the opposite coast, or the coworker reading that.

All I could think of was "Their family saw that, their friends, their coworkers." It just makes me cringe. It made me sad for the couple whose special moment was ruined.  It made me sad for the commenter, whose life is so small and angry that they felt compelled to post something so hurtful.

I don't care if this is child number seven, or if they're poor, or if they're just bad parents.  When they clicked "post", they were joyful. What right did Sister AngryPants have to comment?

I'm sure the commenter would feel righteously justified in posting the comment, if asked.  But it's a judgement, which none of us should do. It's a  scattershot judgement that wasn't just given directly to the intended folks, but to everyone else that ever looks at their social media page.  For one quick moment, that judgmental comment ruined not only their moment but took a little bit from anyone who had to read it, whether they know the person or not.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Kevin's Mom's Super Bowl Sweatshirt:

Kevin's mom's sweatshirt arrived today.  Packages for us are usually accepted by my in-laws so when it arrived, it's a good assumption that it's at their house when we get home.

Amazon sends notifications now so when I got one, I called Kevin to say it was at the house.  He said that his mom had phoned to say there was a package for us.  Kevin just said thanks and didn't let on what it was.  It was for her.

He asked me if he should tell her that he wasn't sure what was in the box and ask her to open it.  I said yes, because that's fun.  He phoned her back, she opened it and was very pleased.  "Oh, you guys. You didn't have to do that!"

And then...

Kevin called about an hour later and said that the sweatshirt was too big for her.  He wondered about having me order another one and we would just give this one to his dad.  Ugh, but okay.  I went online to reorder the sweatshirt and they were out of stock.  Because: Super Bowl.

I phoned Kevin to break the news.  I should have waited until I did a proper search but I wanted to get this done before Sunday.  Kevin actually offered to go to Wally World, in a true act of heroism.

I went back and did another search.  This time it showed it was in stock.  Sigh.  I reordered it and even paid five whole dollars to make sure it arrived before the Super Bowl.  What was supposed to be a kind gesture now  turned into a mildly expensive thing. 

Well, she forgot about the second sweatshirt so when it arrived, it was like Christmas all over again.  She also didn't know that kevin had decided to keep the too large sweatshirt and give it to his dad. Now the parents are outfitted for Seahawks SuperBowl and ready to celebrate.

Happy New Year!


31 December 2015

New Year's Meme



It’s tradition! The New Years Meme!

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
We didn’t  go racing this year, which was strange but we really enjoyed the time at home.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I did, sorta, kinda, sorta.   The appliance finally were replaced.  Now the stove is giving me the side-eye so I suspect it is next.  Microwave that is ten years old and never quite worked right? Totally still here.  It will be next.

CD’s are culled by me and only partially by Kevin, who is surprisingly nostalgic about them. 

Write daily…well, that was a big, fat Nope.  There’s always next year, which is bound to be better than the last few years.

My resolutions for 2015:
1.  I’m seeing some old habits creep in that I’m not enjoying.  I’m going to stick to a consistent work schedule, walk to the mailbox more, make an effort to read and write.
2. Write Daily...be it an email, a tweet, a post, something. 
3. Get off of milk entirely, which is riddling me with anxiety.  I have to find a cream substitute for my coffee! 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Yes!  A close friend had a baby boy named after a classmate (her brother-in-law) who passed in 1988.  Also, new nephew due any minute now!

4. Did anyone close to you die?


Not close to us, but we’ve reached the age where people are passing at a more regular rate.  I do not enjoy.

5. What countries did you visit?


"Oh Canada, our home and native land.."

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Healthy Family Members (a sad repeat from past years)

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
This is odd but it’s a repeat: My last day at my work at the job I hated.  I was using a cane but if I could have SKIPPED out of there, I totally would have.  I’m continually surprised at how unhappy I was there.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


Walking, again.  After getting all my bionics removed, I was a little hesitant.  But now it’s almost like nothing happened.  I can jog a tiny bit even.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Yikes, I am unsure.  Not keeping in better touch with friends, I think.  I always have the best intentions and  the worst attention.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had the most horrible cold from November 22 to just before Christmas.  I can now go illness free through 2016.  I never, never, never get sick.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Oooh, without sounding all hair-flippy, new washer & dryer & dishwasher, new flooring through the entire house, new furniture, and now new kitchen lighting.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mother-in-law, the chick tried to die twice this year and is still here. I’m beginning to think she’s indestructible.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?


Two family members with untreated mental illness (two different branches of the families)  while I can recognize that it’s the mental illness, I can’t seem to justify their behavior or want to spend time with them.

14. Where did most of your money go?
As mentioned above, home improvements.  I’m surprised at how happy it has made me.

15. What did you get really excited about?
New, fantastic job that follows school districts schedules. Snow days and regular breaks!

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
Kick the Dust Up…Luke Bryan.  Riding in a big Dodge, with Kevin on our trip to Winthrop.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? I’m happier, for sure.
– thinner or fatter? Same-ish
– richer or poorer? About the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Write, I’m feeling the anxiety of not doing it.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Spend time in hospitals.

20. How did you spend Christmas?


Eve - at my parents.
Day - Next door, immersed in children's excitement and food

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Every day.

22. What was your favorite TV program?


I always have a difficult time choosing favorites. Doctor Who, Bones, Fixer Upper.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


No. I'm not a hater. It's a waste of time

24. What was the best book you read?
Humans of New York.  I’m a little obsessed.  I also have Stories of Humans of New York.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Amazon Prime Music. 

26. What did you want and get?
My dream job!

27. What did you want and not get?
I am pleased to say that I can’t think of anything.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Divergent.  I am surprised how much I liked it.  Also, not a 2015 film but I’m catching up.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
47.  I was still sick so I slept in, we went to breakfast and shopping then we crashed and watched Flip or Flop all evening.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More reading! 

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Hoodies. Cords.  Boots.  (because I can wear them now!)

32. What kept you sane?


Mochas. Kevin. Lucy. Television.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Trevor Noah, Jon Stewarts replacement.  Wicked smart and funny.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?


Legalization of gay marriage.

35. Who did you miss?


My former co-workers.

36. Who was the best new person you met?


There are two and they’re both co-workers.  Erin and Anne.  They’re both fantastic people who I hope to be friends with forever. 

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Just be patient.  (I’m never good at this.)

23 December 2015

Long, Winding, Christmas Post

It's almost Christmas and I came into the holding feeling unprepared.  I've been sick since our trip so I feel like I've missed the entire Christmas season.  Luckily for me, I'm now on Winter Break so I have days to get my stuff together.

I began at WallyWorld, not my favorite place, ranking lower than the dentist.  Of course, the first cart I chose was wobbly and loud.  I nearly just went home before I even began. It was 8:00 in the morning.

I had a semi-successful shopping trip.  I didn't bring my list because dumb.  I tried to run my card as a credit instead of debit so it was declined thus starting the panic/shame spiral until I figured out what I'd done wrong.  But on terms of WallyWorld shopping trips, successful.

Then I went to the grocery store and that went more smoothly.  For one, I could shop there blindfolded and for two, it was early enough that all the grandparents in the valley were there.  My list was done, except for one present for my grown niece.

Two stores down and I've still forgotten to buy stamps.  Then Kevin called while I was driving and I drove past my post office.  Finally, I get there and there was only a handful of people there. But the first lady in line was trying to figure out the easiest and cheapest way to send about ten over-sized envelopes.  We all wanted her dead, for five minutes, then she can be alive again because it is Christmas after all.

I buckled down as soon as I got home and wrote out about one million Christmas cards.  They're mostly going to be late, especially to our Canadian friends.  The border adds about a one week delay.  And East Coast friends, we'll see.  Sometimes the post office surprises me.  Because cards seem to be a lost art, I really want to continue to do them.  It's just nice getting something in the mail these days.

I will never understand why I feel like I could be a ballerina when I hear the Nutcracker music.  It will never make sense to me.  I'm the poster child of Not A Ballerina, short and curvy.  The other was I realized that I may have gestured stop to another driver while singing along to Frosty the Snowman.  Sorry, other driver, just busting a groove with Frosty.   On the flip side, Same Old Lange Syne by Dan Fogleberg and The River by Joni Mitchell wrecks me every time I hear them.

My family decided not to exchange gifts this year.  I am disappointed that I am at that time of my life, it's an unhappy milestone.  Instead, we are getting gifts for the toddler and my grown nieces.  I know, intellectually, I'm supposed to be understanding about this but emotionally, I'm feeling a little pouty and sad.

With Kevin's family, because there are so many of us, the adults draw names.  So each person gets two presents: one from the person who drew your name and one from their spouse/person.  Then the kids get eleventy billion presents, as it should be.  At least, though, it feels a little like Christmas still.

I got the craziest Christmas bonus at work the other day.  I don't say this to be all braggy but because it was funny.   As we know, I've had the plague since November 22.  When I came into work the other morning, there was a really pretty box of Kleenex with ribbon tied around it and a very nice card from my boss.  Like, with written sentiment and everything.

I've worked for non-profits my entire adult life so Christmas bonuses are few and far between, thus I had absolutely no expectations.  I saw the Kleenex and thought "Hahaha, I've had a cold for a month, it's a pretty box, hahahaha" and was totally happy with the card.

Hours went by when a co-worker came in and asked if I had used my kleenex.  I laughed, because what?  She laughed and said "Pull out a tissue, maybe two."   So, I did and there was one tissue then a whole bunch of $5 bills taped together in a chain.  How funny and cool was that?   Have I mentioned that I still have my dream job?

Oh, and the staff Christmas party.  I am not a party person, especially now that I don't drink.  This one was at  6:00 pm on a WEDNESDAY.  Who does that?  And, to up the difficulty level, it was at someone's house.  There was a gift exchange, which is always fun to watch.  I was the last person to pick so I had the choice of stealing any of the gifts.  Let me tell you, few things give me anxiety like anticipating having to choose a gift and I CAN'T EVEN with the thought of stealing someone elses gift.  I got a Very Cool paper lantern that I love very much.

The house decorations continue to be a challenge.  There is just something about this house that doesn't enjoy decorations.  I don't know what kind of grinch house we built but I'm slowly winning it over.  This year's challenge is that we changed the flooring so the colors of the house have changed.  (We had forest green carpet before. I know, I know, shut up) Now we have wood flooring and earth tone brownish carpet.

So, I got my pinterest on and have liberally scattered ornaments everywhere.  This seems to please the house.  Also, I have used pretty beaded rope and small string lights. Finally, Michaels (the craft store, not the former husband) has these overly glittered and shiny decorations that I love like I'm a small child.  They are very WhoVille.  (funny aside: Kevin took a bag to put a change of clothes into.  He grabbed the bag the decorations traveled home in and his clothes came out rather glittery.  Everyone wins there.)

AND THEN,

For my birthday and unexpected riches, I went to the second hand store to browse.  I've become a Christmas ornament junkie and I wanted to see what they might have for Five, the new baby due any minute now.  Giant score!  I found a pleather jacket for him, cute jeans and onesies with heavy equipment and 4x4 trucks on them.  And, best score: a brand-new boppy pillow for mama and the baby.  $50 in the store and I bought it for $7.99. 

I also found old glass ornaments, like the ones I had as a child.  A Vegas photo album to help along my ongoing photo project, a purple track suit (they were actually separates but I have to imagine they just were separated in sorting, they match so well.  They're plum colored, that can't have been an accident)  A pillow that I don't need, I just wanted.  Two pairs of black corduroy pants.  A red fleece shirt to wear on Christmas.  My basket was full, an unusual thing for me.

I was approached by an elderly man who asked me if I had the discount today.  The store had just announced that seniors received an extra discount.  I told him no, laughed, and said "I'm not old enough yet, I'm not as cool as you."

He gave me his 30% off discount.  He said that he was looking around for someone to give it to and he chose me.  Me, the way non-hugger, hugged him and wished him a Merry Christmas.  He said "Now you can buy more things, put that discount to use!"  I  told him that we were waiting  for the arrival of my grand-nephew and he smiled.

Now, everything is wrapped, cards are sent, everything that is going to be bought/ordered has been, I dare to say that I'm ready.  So much work in just a few days.  Whew.  And it snowed yesterday and today.  Not a lot, but enough to make everything pretty.

Merry Christmas, Everyone.  I hope Santa brings you what you've wished for.  If not, there's always next year.  :)




02 December 2015

Let's Play Best Part/Worst Part

Whoa, where did November go?  I blinked and it's December.

My dream job was momentarily my nightmare job but now it's back in a more realistic category.  I still very much enjoy it, there was just a really steep learning curve (hill, more accurate perhaps) and a bigger than anticipated mess to deal with.  But I've conquered most of it and now am finding my new normal.

And then, because deadlines are fun!  We had our annual vacation at the end of the month.

So, let's talk about the trip.

Best part: hanging out with all of our friends in Vegas.  This year included one of our friend's mom, who is in her seventies.  She was so much fun, her son clearly got his sense of humor from him.  Because we didn't race this season, we also didn't get to hang out with our friends as much.  So this was a much needed time.

Worst part: the brother-in-law's untreated anxiety made me quite stabby by the end of the trip. One example of many examples of anxiety included shouting "turn left!" over the two people (other than the driver) who knew where they were going, resulting in a wrong turn.  From the back seat. With no apology.

Best/Worst part tie: I caught a nasty cold on the second-to-last night there.  I spent the last full day in the hotel room with a cough, fever, and stuffed up head.  I guess it could be worse, at least I was in a nice hotel room with a view of the Strip.  (fast forward one week & one day later: still have the cold) I watched We Are The Millers, Life as We Know It, and HGTV all day so it could have been worse.

Worst/Worst Part: the Starbucks was under construction in our hotel.  I had two $30 gift cards to use this year and now I still do.  On the last full day there, another guest told me where a regular Starbucks was and I could  see it from our room.  Sigh.

Best Part in the Worst Possible Way:  In the airport while we were waiting to return home, our friend Mike asked if I really had a cold or if it was the environment.  I croaked out "Nope, it's a cold."  

"I was just curious because I'm all stuffed up.  I hope I don't have your cold."

Without thinking at all, I reply:  "I keep telling you to stop licking me."

I think the entire airport went silent for about the beat of three.  Then all of our friends laughed long and loudly.

Oh, filter, you're so easily thwarted.  At least it gave them a good story to tell.


05 November 2015

Meet-Cute

This morning I stopped and got coffee at my 2nd favorite stand near my work.  It's located downtown and across the street from the YMCA so you sometimes see characters that you don't normally see. The baristas are always super nice, like one would expect, but they sometimes have some sketchy customers so they are aware of their surroundings.

While I was waiting for my drink, I noticed a guy approach the car waiting on the other side of the stand.  It was a cute, little, just post-college age girl who looked like she was heading to work.  (I have very active imagination, in case you haven't noticed)

He was a typical Bellingham appearing guy, which means nothing to those of you who have never been here but picture a snowboarder in your mind.  That's what he looked like, so not sketchy but definitely free-spirited.

It's odd that someone would approach a car in a drive-through so I just kind of surreptitiously paid attention.  It felt a little flirty, actually.  She answered him, smiling, then got out of her car and walked behind it.  This made me a little nervous but there were plenty of people around, in case my intuition was wrong and he was a serial killer.  (Ted Bundy lived in Bellingham for a while, so you never know, right?)

Soon, she returned to her car and the barista asked her if everything was okay.  She kind of giggled then answered that he just tapped her car bumper and wanted to let her know.  She was completely unconcerned about it but I noticed that she got her information out of her purse.

The barista gave me the credit card slip to sign and commented on it.  I said that it felt like a meet-cute type of situation.  She giggled and said "Maybe so, we'll watch and see."  I mean, it is a little drastic and risky but also kind of clever.  I peeked around the corner when I left and his car was a nice one, so it didn't seem like someone trying to scam insurance money.

Now I'm imagining that they've exchanged information and maybe they'll need to meet somewhere for something insurance or repair related.  Then they'll have a great meet-cute story to tell everyone.

03 November 2015

A Little Summer Adventure

Yeah,  this is one of those thinking that I clicked "Publish" things.  In August.

Out of the clear blue sky, Kevin invited me to go to Winthrop for the weekend.  He had talked about going there since we bought the big truck but all of a sudden he decided "Let's go!"  Which is how it should be, I think.  Otherwise there is always a reason to not go, because there is just never a "perfect" time.  He said that because we didn't get to do much of anything fun lately, this was a good opportunity.

It took four tries to find a hotel, because short notice and August.  I will advise to not trust the online booking systems because the sites said every place was booked but after a few calls, I found a room in a nice hotel down by the river.  This prompted a few Chris Farley references for days.

This is another example of how we shouldn't be in charge of our own lives because it's as if half of Eastern Washington is on fire right now, including a resort lake nearby where we were staying. But more on that later.

I had to hustle on Friday to get all my errands and chores done on Friday.  By the time Friday night came around, I was absolutely ready to go relax. This is the first time we've done a trip just for just us and just for relaxation since about 2000.  Everything we do seems to be activity related and done in large groups. Neither of us are big on just relaxing so this was going to be interesting.  We're not used to being at our own devices.

Saturday morning Kevin woke me up a little early so we could leave before traffic was stupid.  He took the puppy to get coffee and treats while I got ready and packed.  Then we avoided eye contact with the puppy, who knows it's the weekend and was feeling betrayed that we were leaving.

Winthrop is about three hours away, over a northern pass that is just a two lane highway.  It's a primitive pass that closes every winter due to snow and slides.  There is no cell service for almost two hours. Picture the lost highway that you would see in horror films.

That being said, it's quite beautiful.  Lots of mountain ranges, boulders, trees.  We stopped a few times to take pictures and walk around.  Three hours isn't a long trip and it was nice to just take our time.  Also, did I mention no cell service?  In this case, it was a relief.

We stopped in Newhalem, which is a housing development/camp owned by Seattle City Light.  It looks right at the mountain faces and is the last stop before going over the pass.  As we pulled in, we noticed smoke on the mountain.  Again, half of Eastern Washington is on fire right now.  We both worried that we would now have fires on our side of the mountains. We saw a homemade sign on the side of the road that said "We have seen the fires, no need to call to report." so we kept going. Because we make good choices.

We got into Winthrop at lunch time and the place was a complete zoo.  It's Old Western styled town on one long street.  We ate lunch then went to find our hotel.  It turns out that we could have walked to it from the restaurant, so that was nice. In fact, it's all quite walkable in Winthrop.

I can't believe that I didn't take any pictures but there is a good reason. More on that in a bit.  Here is the link to help you envision where we stayed:  Hotel Rio Vista.   It's right on the river and each room has a balcony/deck.  We actually sat by the river for a little while and chatted about returning to see it in the winter when the river is really ripping and/or in the summer again and going rafting.

We walked around town, including a museum that was set up like a little town.  It is a very cool way to look at artifacts.  Actual livery, blacksmithing, doctor office, etc.  It was a mining town and they had the equipment used to dig, haul and otherwise mine.  Kevin was equally horrified and impressed at the primitive machinery. He was definitely thankful of the new equipment he runs every day.

We had ice cream before dinner, because: adults! and played miniature golf.  I was totally beating Kevin until he shot a hole-in-one.We visited a bookstore and a gift shop and just took our time.  This never happens in our lives, we rarely just relax.

Then we went back to the hotel and took a nap.  And the power went out.  Like the mature adults we are, we ignored it for a little while.  There weren't any sirens or reverse 911 calls so we didn't panic.We were on vacation, we were napping.  We were being boneheads.

Finally, we went to the front desk to see what was happening. They had no idea about anything.  No idea what happened, no idea when it would return, "last time it was weeks" and suggested that if we wanted something to eat, we should go to the grocery store NOW.

Enter manic crazy person into the hotel lobby. "I used to volunteer for the Red Cross in L.A. so if you need food or batteries, just knock on my door. I'm in room number-whatever."   Then she proceeded to tell us that money in small denominations is the MOST IMPORTANT ITEM in your emergency kit.  We slowly backed out the door.

We walked back into town and it was a ghost town.  Where there were people and cars a few hours ago, there was nothing.  We went back to the ice cream shop. (the only place still open) where the hilarious young son is gesturing behind his mother, the owner, to us to get out of town. They agreed that it could be days before power was restored and because we were only three hours away, to go home. 

So, we went back to the hotel and loaded the truck.  We had to get something to eat because Kevin has to eat every three hours or so or bad things happen.  I always have snack with me but remember, we had ice cream before we had our dinner and now it's 7:00 and no dinner.  We needed real food.

The grocery store was busy, with cars in the turn lanes waiting to get gas.  Kevin parked in an adjoining parking lot and went into the store by himself.   I figured this would be quicker.  About ten minutes later, he returned with an incredulous look on his face.  "Armageddon?"  I asked.

"You don't even KNOW!" he says.  "It was chaos.  It was like a movie. The shelves were empty and people were freaking out.  This is all I could get."  He hands me a bag that contains doughnuts, chips, and two bottles of water.  Jeez.  Now it's an authentic road trip from our teen years, full of junk food and poor choices.

Out of town we head.  This pass can be ugly in the daylight and Kevin wasn't excited about doing it in the dark.  "You look for deer and I'm going to, maybe, speed. A little."  Again, this place is remote so we were the only car on the road for miles.

We passed a DNR crew on the way when we were quite a bit from out of town so we assumed that something was going on with the nearby fires.  Seeing them made us glad that we left town when we did.  We reached almost the top of the pass when Kevin says "Is that someone walking?"  It was way dark by then.  Easily nine o'clock.

We were in the middle of nowhere. No houses, no rest stops, no campgrounds, nothing.  We were still at least an hour from the nearest town, which isn't really a town at all.  It's the Seattle City Light property that surrounds the dams that I mentioned earlier.  There are houses, but no stores or hotels or anything helpful if you're stranded.

As we got closer, we saw that it was a man and a little girl walking alongside  the road.  What.the.WHAT?  Kevin wondered "What do we do?" and all I said was "Kevin, she's a little girl."   We are in the middle of nowhere and I would have rather risk being killed than leaving that little girl to the elements and animals.

Kevin turned the truck around and pulled up ahead of them.  The little girl actually started jumping and skipping in excitement.  I thought I was going to burst into tears.  Kevin said it just broke his heart to see her.  She was probably around seven or eight and Kevin said the man was older than he, maybe a grandpa.

At the same time that Kevin jogged up to them another vehicle approached them.  They asked if everything was alright and did they need a ride.   The grandpa said that they had broken down so they were walking.  The other car was a SUV so Kevin suggested that they would be more comfortable with them.  (instead of squeezing in the extended cab of our truck for an hour)  They went, gratefully, with the people in the SUV.

The grandpa shook Kevin's hand and thanked him profusely for stopping.  He said that other cars had passed and not stopped. What is wrong with humanity?  A LITTLE GIRL, for eff sakes.  We couldn't understand why they weren't walking back toward the nearest town.  Maybe he became confused, we just don't know.

So, off we are again on the quest to get home.  We had talked about getting something to eat when we reached civilization, which is actually my old hometown.  But being rattled by the grandpa and girl, all we could think of was we wanted to get home again so we didn't stop.

We got home, so very tired, at nearly midnight.  We had a bowl of cereal and went to bed.  In our safe house, with electricity and no fires nearby. The next morning the news reported that the fires had damaged the electrical wires in the area, causing outages.  I phoned later in the afternoon and they had power again.  We still felt confident in our decision because regardless of the power, we had no food.  And we didn't pay a hotel fee to be camping.

The hotel gave us 50% credit so now we have to return.  We can't decide if we want to go in the winter or the summer.  I think we'll just not go when that half of the state is not on fire.





If You Don't Want to be Called a Pinhead, Don't Be A Pinhead

We went to family dinner on Friday night and we took our big Dodge truck.  Kevin is always careful where he parks it.  He wants to keep it nice and it takes up an entire parking space because of it's size.  Often, we park a little further away just so we're not inconveniencing anyone by not allowing enough space around to park.

This time was no exception.  We parked at the end of the lot, so curb on one side and parking spaces on the other.  When we came out, there was a little white car parked right next us.  I laughed at first because anyone who is ever careful parking their car is aware of the phenomenon of having another car (usually a junker) park right next to them when you make the effort to park far away in order to keep your nice car nice.

Kevin was all "Are you KIDDING me?" and got a little more vocal with his displeasure as we neared the car. It turns out that the car is parked squarely on the white line dividing our spaces; as if playing a game that required perfectly aligning the drivers side tires on the line.  There were open spaces next to them and there was no way on earth that the driver got out of the car and thought it was okay.  In fact, it's my guess that their door at the very least touched the running board of the truck in order for them to get out.

So, now sarcasm is at a high.  I mentioned to Kevin the above thought.  "They got out and thought it's okay, I'm parked like a douche but it doesn't matter." While Kevin is saying "What kind of a pinhead thinks that's okay."

After a moment, Kevin looked behind us and kind of nods his head.  I glance but it wasn't anyone I knew and not thinking just started getting into the truck.  Then I hear a woman's voice "Oh, I guess I did park a little close, didn't I?"

"Yeah, Yeah, you did do that." is all I said then closed the door.  Kevin said something along the line of "Yeah, you could have done better" or something like that.  Then he got in the truck.   We waited a mili-second  then we were all "OMG, can you believe that just happened!?!?"

Kevin said "I feel a little bad that they heard me call them a pinhead."  I replied "If you act like a pinhead, then you can expect to hear that about yourself."  Know that Kevin is the most diplomatic guy.  He can usually smooth over awkward situations, calm people down, or discuss uncomfortable topics in an Oprah like manner.  He probably wouldn't have said anything if he'd known that someone was within hearing range.  So, it was awkward yet funny.  Where Kevin was remorseful, I was still indignant.

Kevin decided to wait for her to pull out of the space because, again, she parked too close.  Of course she did the whole take fifteen minutes to put on her seatbelt, reapply lipstick, organize her purse, adjust her mirror, put her driving gloves on thing that just makes me stabby.  Then, again, because tight parking, she takes about five attempts to get backed out and leave.

I thought Kevin was going to get out of the truck and demand her keys and license. Any remorse he felt vanished.


Hard Drive is Full, Please Clear Some Memory

So, the work thing.  My brain is so, so tired.  The partner left behind a bit of a mess, and while I knew  intellectually that this was going to be, I was overwhelmed.  It's learning a whole new system and fixing problems that I don't know how to fix.  I must be doing okay because the biller and my boss seem pleased. 

Two things about the partner: she is skilled at making something more complicated than it needs to be and she doesn't know how to ask for help.  Thus the current mess.

I had a stack of paper about half a ream high that needed something called Codes and Units.  Units are easy, four units make up an hour but they had to be written on each paper.  Codes seem complicated and overwhelming until, kind of like algebra, it just clicks. 

There are Speech Therapists and they have one set of codes.  They helped make their own list before I took over.  Then, there are Occupational and Physical Therapists and their codes weren't in place.  Their codes are much more complicated and they couldn't help make the list because they came from workplaces where they didn't have to worry about this. (much bigger organizations than ours)  However, they both provided telephone numbers/email for women who could.  In 24 hours, we had a good list of codes and that stack went away.

Two other things to know: these codes had to be in place on October 1st.  I took over on the 17th.  Super fun.  The initial system the partner made up was a little slip of pink paper with the codes printed on it for one set of therapists only.  The therapist circled the code then turned them in each time they had a session.  Then partner wrote them on the forms. So much room for error and what a pain for the therapist to keep these little slips of paper.  These little slips of paper that I couldn't find anywhere.  They already had a form called a Home Visit Form that they complete after each visit so these stupid little slips make no sense whatsoever.

Now, because the biller helped me, there is one sheet of paper that the therapists complete at the end of the day that does all of the above and simply goes to the biller.  I no longer have to look at it.  This is the prime example of making something much more difficult than it had to be.  The therapists are relieved not to have those slips, they have master lists, and they don't have to make copies of anything.  Before they ended their days also making copies for the partner to go with the little pink slips. 

I am literally making this job up as I go.  There is one set of instructions that are written down in nearly an essay style. To make it more entertaining, there are judgey statements like "You should be able to figure this out without asking."  Oh, I forgot to mention this: no one else knows how to do this job.  The boss has NO IDEA, which is a specific kind of ridiculous.  I can ask the 2nd in charge and she can give me a little direction but the system has changed since she did the job.  I am relying on the biller, who is nice but talks like I know all the things.  I have to constantly remind her that I don't know anything and that nothing is written down.  Despite this, we are getting along just fine.

Now, this coming week I have to learn the website databases.  There are mainly three of them, so, so, so! overwhelming. One main database that leads to every insurance company ever, each insurance companies websites, plus the billers website database.    I literally had to just ignore that part until I finished the above because I couldn't even contemplate it without abject panic. Breathing in a paper bag, rocking under my desk while eating my hair panic.

I was feeling pretty good about this plan until I got an email from the biller at the end of the day on Friday that has a list of kids denied insurance payments.  Now I have to go back and trace where the wheels fall off and hope I can fix it.  Because, if not, the center doesn't get paid.  Fun!  the only relief is that with this particular set of problems, it's not my fault.  It's the partners but I have to fix it while not knowing what I'm doing.  Luckily, some of it is as simple as making a copy of their insurance information and giving it to the biller.  The other part is those intimidating websites. 

So, I may start drinking again.  Oh, and I go on vacation on the 18th so I have a deadline to get this mess cleaned up.  I really, really, really want to punch the partner.  I'm focusing on winning though.  I want to be able to say "I fixed this".  I have to use my OCD powers for good. 

Oh! and then I overhear the boss offer to compensate the partner for any time she has spent answering questions via email/phone.  Wait, WHAT?  this is how codependent their relationship was and the perfect example of how we ended up in this mess.
All this being said, I still love my job.  I love my coworkers, they really are the best. They're really mellow, kind without being smarmy, and there's no drama.  They're really good at saying "I don't understand" or "I don't agree so let's talk more about it."  It's like the dream team.  
 
The one glitch in the system is the boss has actually said that she doesn't want to be the boss.  However, after talking to the Board President about that topic, I/we have permission to kind of force her to relinquish some stuff so that she is relegated to just doing her job, which isn't intended to be within the four walls of the center.   Then  the program manager, the resource coordinator and I are running the joint.  How crazy is that?  In two weeks, I went from being the afternoon low-level person to being an administrator.  It's terrifying.
I am doing what I did at my old job plus now the insurance billing.  It is also similar to the school (billing insurance instead of billing DSHS) but without the H/R component BUT that is becoming partially my responsibility as well.  Remember when I said I didn't want to do this again?  I'm totally doing it again. 
 
I believe the difference in this situation is that the staff is really supportive and everyone has a good set of boundaries. Plus this wonderful school schedule thing; all the major holidays off and an upcoming nearly two weeks off at the end of the year.  Did I mention I'm going on vacation in two weeks, for two weeks?  (Did y'all just tell me to shut up? It feels like you did. :)  It's okay, I totally would to)

Also, I am forcing myself to keep boundaries unlike either of my previous jobs, which is growth.  I leave on time, I leave everything at the office, I concentrate on not thinking about work while I'm home, even though that's nearly impossible right now.  I'm working about 32 hours a week, 8:30-3:00ish.  Longer if necessary but then comp time to follow. I make a point of coming home and watching Greys Anatomy or Bones with the puppy, just to decompress. Although this implies that I have any brainpower left over at the end of the day.  Because wow, is my hard drive full.  I can't process any more information.
I do have to have the awkward conversation about compensation though.  My job just tripled so it feels like I should be compensated more.  I haven't quite figured out how to approach this.  Right now, I'm thinking that I have to figure out with my new partners what my new title should be.  Once we decide that,  then I think it organically opens the compensation conversation door.  I was kind of hoping I wouldn't have to but clearly, it is on me. The other tack is now I should have vacation pay and I have a vacation soon. I've never had to negotiate a salary before so this is new territory for me.

And while this is whiny, I am very grateful.  I still can't believe that I finally got my dream job.  I just have to do a brain scan and discard any unnecessary information.  Goodbye my twenties, glad to erase you.


22 October 2015

I Was Just Getting Well Adjusted

In the Be Careful for What You Wish For file is this week.  After three months of wondering wth my job share partner does with her time, I'm finding out.  She "resigned" on Friday. 

In my excitement to not be working with someone who is condescending and inept, I somehow missed the whole I Will Be Working More memo.  After waxing poetic about loving working in the afternoons, I am working in the mornings.  After telling Kevin I wasn't worried about spending $300 on fixing  one of the heaters in the truck and justifying it with "It won't be frosty when I leave for work", I suddenly need that heater. (although we haven't had a frost yet, which is weird)

It was fun anticipating and  then doing the redecorating and organization of the desk.  Partner used sticky notes for many things.  There were five of  them just on the monitor. (two of which were passwords, because security)   They were the very first thing I took care of.  The second thing was all the papers on the bulletin boards, a lot of which were outdated. Even though the office provided a set of speakers and a lamp, she had two more. Unnecessary clutter and paperwork, my favorites!

Partner worked there for about a year and a half.  It's like she sat down at the desk and that was it.  She added sticky notes and papers to the bulletin board and...yeah, that seems to be it.  One of  the desk drawers was full of empty file hangers and folders.  So, if you opened it, it kind of looked like there was stuff going on, but not at all if you looked closely.

While I do enjoy the personal vindication of being right about her, I'm not enjoying as much the cleaning of  the mess.  Just today, four days later, I'm starting to be able to breathe again.  I feel like I've opened every drawer and looked through every file.  I can safely say that if I find any more surprises (like two packs of sticky notes and two boxes of pens tucked in the back of an unused drawer, after I had cleaned out everything) I'm going to go full internet meme style desk flip. 

The one scary part of this new situation is that I need to learn insurance billing.  The process is convoluted and can require three websites to complete.  Three. Websites.  Oh, and bonus: two have to be run in Internet Explorer.  Sigh.  I'm going to have to use my OCD powers for good.  Right now there are 115 kids and there will be 130 by December.  I am praying to every from of god there is that this doesn't turn into some kind of goat rodeo.

So, yeah, after all my talk of working part time, I'm now going to be working 35 hours. After stating that I didn't want a high responsibility job, insurance billing.   I need to make better choices. 

05 October 2015

A Lot of Important Thoughts From a Simple Music CD

In order to make room for the newly inherited and organized photo albums, I had to clean out a cupboard that we rarely use.  It's a cute little cupboard/built-in but it is out of the way to store anything that is frequently useful. It is in the hallway, next to the office and common folk bathroom.  It is perfect to store DVD's, games, and CD's though.  As always, it didn't occur to me to take a photo beforehand so you'll have to trust me. But this is what it looks like on the outside:



The top section was filled with movies.  DVD's, VHS  tapes, and box sets.  I  had even gone as far as to have a section for Christmas movies and books.  (I have issues, I know. Totally aware)  The bottom section was filled with CD's.  I had them stored in miniature apple crates in our old house and somehow they fit perfectly into this cupboard. 

I've talked before about what to do with the hundreds of CD's we have.  Most of the music Kevin wants is loaded onto a SD card in his phone, which is fantastic until the SD card goes away as they sometimes do.  I need to look into online storage for him but it is a lot of data to upload.

I have some music on my phone from CD's but mostly I use Amazon Prime Music or Sirius.  What is on my phone is the Go-To Music, the can't live without stuff. U2, 54/40, Barenaked Ladies (Could I be more Canadian?) 

It boils down to an anxiety thing.  I don't want to let the CD's go because What-If.  Yet, there are so many of them.  Although I do listen to them occasionally.  One would think that with Sirius radio and a billion stations to listen to, I wouldn't get trapped in Radio Hell but I still do.  Radio Hell is when there simply isn't good music playing, or more accurately perhaps, music you're in the mood to hear.  In that case, I have a lone Jack Johnson CD in the truck.  It used to be Bon Jovi, so clearly I've grown.

Here is what I finally did, or am in the process of doing.  I started going through the boxes and taking out CD's that I know I will probably never listen to again.  CD's that were bought on a whim, gifts, or just musical tastes have changed. That act culled a few but not as many as I had hoped.  Then I gave it a few days and went through them again.  I may have taken a few more out but not many.

It is strange how musical tastes change.  Or maybe not taste per se but just plain tired of hearing a song or band.  Especially now that I am at an age that popular music from my youth is being used in commercials and played in grocery stores.  There were a few CD's that I used to love that I was all "Ugh, I'll be happy to never hear that again."

Then I went through again and took out the CD's that I can't live without. The aforementioned bands, Tom Petty, Glee soundtracks, anything from Eminem to Dixie Chicks.  This leaves me with 60 CD's that I am keeping and need to find a home for. Still a lot.
post-culling, waiting for their fate to be decided by Kevin
Now Kevin is next.  I'm going to have him do the same thing I did: take out the music he'll never listen to and then choose the stuff he can't live without if his phone gets lost or whatever.  He is not looking forward to this at all.  I can't blame him.  It's taken me weeks to get this far.  Then I will do a final cull and off to Goodwill they go.

I already had him go through the movies and he took out about ten DVD's and mocked my keeping any VHS tapes. It's not like there are a bunch of them and it's mostly racing stuff, some footage of him racing.   I took out about only the same amount of DVD's so there will be no judging on either of our behalf.

At least with the DVD's, the format hasn't changed for a few years.  It was VHS/Beta, then it was laser disc and then it was DVD's and Blueray.   Now it's streaming video and DVR's and while I use that too, it's nice to have the movies in my physical possession.  I think it's the same with these CD's.  The formats will change probably but I have these for now.

One thought I had  about the movies was "Will I watch these once I retire or in a home?"  (I know, I went a little dark there in my considerations)  Certainly the technology will have changed by then again but we're in the What-If category again.  One would think that would prompt me to keep them more but I thought about it and actually became a little more ruthless.

This leaves one shelf that holds games.  Monopoly, cribbage, an authentic 1970's Newlywed Game, and games that have just accumulated over time.  We don't play them anymore but I just know that someday we will.  The kids will be over, or we'll be retired with nothing else to do, or whatever.  They live on the bottom shelf so it's not like it's valuable real estate being taken up. I have chosen to ignore that shelf entirely for now.  Even though I still have to find a home to store the CD's we are keeping.  We will come to that standoff eventually.

So...the point...hmmm...there are a few: stop keeping crap you don't use. Music is a reflection of our own history.  What's important to others might not be to you.  What was important then isn't necessarily going to be important forever.  Plan ahead.  Break a big task into littler tasks. (somewhere my mom is muttering "littler" is not a word)

01 October 2015

It is Only the Preseason

As you may have noticed, it's election preseason.  I keep deep-breathing and reminding myself that it's only preseason.  Like in football, it doesn't matter if games are lost or what happens because it has little reflection on the actual season. It is just an opportunity to shake out the rookies who won't make the cut. It's my futile hope that when the actual season begins, the nonsense will lessen.

But that is just on the national and media level.  Now we have the social media level.  There seems to be no preseason in social media.  It can be just constant nonsense.  Once something is posted on social media, it is forever.  Even if it has been repeatedly debunked, it still makes the rounds.

We have what I call the Grandma Circle on our facebook.  It consists of Kevin's mom, Kevin's aunt, Kevin's mom's best friend, and our neighbor.  If one posts a meme, you can count that it will make the rounds within hours.  Every once in a while, I will post a comment that says "Ooops, this is a fake" just to stem the tide or just because I can't take it anymore when something is false.

Someone posted a status update a little while ago that said something along the lines of "We aren't friends because we agree on politics. I didn't choose to friend you because of politics.  I will hide or unfriend people who choose to spend their time on facebook spreading their views."

At first, I was all "Dude, Harsh" but I get it.  I use the facebook to keep in touch with friends and cousins.  I usually post memes about coffee and books and photos of the puppy.  If we're somewhere interesting, I will "check-in" with a comment or something funny. 

Gone are the days where I post an actual update.  I'm not sure why.  Some of the reason is that this year went sideways and I just didn't have much to say.  I just don't think people don't want to hear that my leg hurts, or Kevin's mom is struggling, or Lucky the Dog died, or that I hated the "perfect on paper" job.  I think people would rather see coffee memes and cute puppies.  But that is just my opinion, my way of doing things.

Along that line, I don't usually post anything political either.  I did when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage because that personally affected members of my family and friends.  That was the exception.  Otherwise I do the passive activism thing of liking posts I agree with.  Some of those show up in our news feeds now so I feel like that it a gentle way of supporting a cause or stating a belief without the bullsh*t "Share if you agree" tagline. I won't like anything that has the "share" part of it.  I don't feel like I'm yelling in your face what my thought or belief is with a meme.

I just don't think it's respectful to the many kinds of people on my facebook.  Like you, I have family, coworkers, friends, and far-away friends, many of whom are older and they don't want to see the eff word in their feed, my politics will likely not match theirs, (think: church ladies) and unfortunately, I was raised in a political environment that doesn't match my own beliefs.  There are too many different people with different belief systems for me to feel easy about posting something like that.

One coping skill I use to cull out the nonsense on my feed is the hide option.  If someone posts something from a source I don't support, I use the "Hide all from ....." button.  This has alleviated some stress from my newsfeed for certain. By doing so, it often hides certain topics from my feed.

But there's always that one friend who posts stuff to "start a conversation" or "just to push buttons".  This friend is about to get themselves hidden.  The most recent one said something like "I know this will offend some so just keep scrolling if that's you."  I was actually surprised at how disrespectful that felt.  They consciously posted something knowing that it was offensive to some (and it was, and it was willfully ignorant, and narrow-minded) and just be all fine with it.

I guess I just don't understand it.  It's not free speech, it's intentionally posting to upset someone. It is disrespecting others because they have the right to do so and social media provides that platform. I choose not to be that person and it, perhaps childishly, frustrates me that others don't think the same.

Back to the original point: it's the political preseason.  (it's actually called the "silly season" but I like the football analogy)  I can only hope that the nonsense settles down once the rookies are cut, and we can move forward with the best candidates, not just the best of the worst.  I can only hope that people can maybe use some courtesy and continue to be friends.

Even if I have to hide them until 2017.

17 September 2015

In a Small Box, Amongst Boxes

I made a sad discovery while going through this last set of boxes.  At the bottom of a smaller box was this card:


Kevin's mom delivered a child before his brother.  (Kevin is the youngest, although most people guess he's the oldest.)  This baby, a boy, was a Thalidomide baby, so he didn't fully develop.  I'm unclear if he died in utero or shortly after birth.   Kevin's mom said that she saw him, like a glimpse, even though they wouldn't let her have him.

We have never asked what happened to the baby. Only once have I heard her talk about it.  Now, with her health, I'm not sure we would get a clear answer. It was 1959, a small town, and they were poor so it's difficult to guess. There isn't a birth or death record on public record, which is puzzling. I've done an extensive search.  So, I was surprised to see the burial card.  It seems the only proof that this baby existed.

Being the research nerd that I am, I phoned the cemetery.  A wonderful woman named Allie answered my questions, as if the birth had just happened and not almost sixty years ago.  The impact of the information caught me off guard so much.  I just can't even.

The baby was born and died on January 14, 1959.  There isn't a gender indicated, which matches the Thalidomide baby description.  In case you don't know, they were called "Flipper babies" because their extremities didn't develop.  I'm guessing that they couldn't tell and Kevin's mom just chose a gender.  I don't know if she ever named the baby, I'm guessing not.

My plan is to drive out one day soon to the cemetery, where most of Kevin's family has been buried, to see if I can find him.  I suspect that there is no marker though.  Allie said that she could provide a map to show me exactly where he is buried.  I can see if there is a marker or if we need to get one.

I can't imagine that Kevin's mom has been out there to visit.  She was eighteen when this happened, her husband was on the road during the birth, and she didn't drive. Also, they moved to another county shortly after Kevin's birth, three years later, so it's not like she could just stop by.

I'm going to err on the side of caution and not mention any of this to her.  Her condition changes day-to-day and I just don't think it's a good idea to risk upsetting her.  If the opportunity ever arises, I will gingerly share what I've learned.  I know it's been upsetting for me and it's not even my blood relation.  

14 September 2015

Three Boxes

The other night at dinner I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I finally finished the photo project.  All the photos that were going into albums were in them, they were scanned, and some posted on facebook.

She frowned for a moment and said "Did you see a bunch of truck pictures?"

Oh. No.

"Well, there were some but...do you...do you think there are more?"

"I think so. Maybe."

I told her "You're going to make me cry. I don't cry and you're going to make me cry."

To increase the difficulty level to this project, family was coming in the very next day.  Family who would love to see these photos.  I was feeling confident that I had finished the albums and then there's MORE. And now a deadline.  *FUN*

Kevin and I went over after dinner and looked again.  Three boxes of photos.  THREE BOXES.  Full of loose photos, not even in albums.  Some in envelopes but mostly just loose. Three. Boxes.

In some ways I wasn't daunted because I had developed a system.  I do an initial sort into family groups, mother and father.  Then I do another sort into smaller groups of photos that can go to the cousins or into events  This also allows to sort out copies, bad pictures and things like negatives.  Or, in this case this time, slides. Yep. SLIDES.

In the initial batch of photographs there were negatives like none I had never seen before.  They were almost like tintypes.  I had those developed and discovered there was a picture of my father-in-law's dad when he was in his twenties.  So, probably one hundred years old.

These are the kinds of treasures I keep finding.

So, I had a system and a baseline to start, again. One of the albums is a really nice, archival type album.  Kevin's mom had begun to fill it but not in an organized way.  In fact, many of the albums were haphazard like that; halfway organized and then just random photos.

I built upon her work, putting her family's photos in the front and in chronological order.  Then I flipped forward to about halfway through and put Kevin's dad's family photos in chronological order as well.

This was fantastic.  Right up until the additional three boxes.

Okay, challenge accepted.  I found an empty album and started again.  I focused on Kevin's dad's family because those are the folks who were coming to visit.  Now I have an album nearly full of just those photos.

I spent a few hours printing out copies for the Uncle and the Cousin during their visit. They were pretty happy to have them.  Imagine suddenly having photos of you when you were significantly younger, some of which you didn't even know existed.

The fun part, to me, was posting them on my mother-in-law's facebook page.  I made her two albums, one for each branch of the family.  Then I tagged the cousins.  I think we created our own ancestry site on the facebook. Kevin's uncle is a goldmine of information.  Dude can tell you dates, locations, names like it was yesterday.  He turns 81 soon.

Time warp is a risk while doing this.  I've found myself actually dreaming of times and people that I didn't know or experience. Stories that I heard were becoming real.  I was legitimately sad that I missed things like a cousin's wedding or a birthday party.

I watched Kevin grow up as there were photos of when he was an infant, toddler, school-ager, right up to adulthood. He had no idea that his mom had any of these photos.

There were photos of he and his former wife, which were jarring to see at first then they kind of lost their power to shock.  There was a twinge of sadness...regret, maybe, that I didn't get to experience that part of his life.  He swears I wouldn't have liked him then and maybe not.  Who's to know, really.  I knew him superficially while I was married the first time anyway.

But I feel more connected to the family now too.  I can identify family members when they were young, which house the photo was taken at, and I know the stories behind the photos.

And my photo wall is coming along beautifully!




05 September 2015

Half Days, Full Days

I wasn't sure how I would like working in the afternoons.  It has an element of waiting all morning to go to work, which can be frustrating and distracting. But as time has passed, that sense of anticpation/panic is less.

It's been sixty days now (I know, right!?!) and I've decided that I like it, very much.  Previously, I was home by 3:30 every day.  It gave me the afternoon to relax but only two-ish hours before Kevin came home from work.  So, really, it provided time to do chores, start dinner, and maybe watch some television like the news or whatever.

Now, Kevin leaves at 5:30 in the morning and I'm up.  I did not say awake, but up.  I have coffee and a little treat while Lucy and I watch television.  I watch shows or a movie that Kevin doesn't like.  Puppy always sleeps on me and sometimes she is Ambien for me.

I had a steadfast rule of no computer in the morning because it was a big distraction.  I can break that rule now and I need to.  I've lost the rhythm of writing every day and I need to get back into it. As evidenced by the lack of posts here. That and August.

The idea that a pet can be helpful when you spend a lot of time alone is true. Lucy insists on going outside around 8:30 every morning. This means I have to be showered and ready for the day before then.  I have to be ready because she seems to sense when I'm indisposed, if you will, and tends to wander further than allowed.  The shiny side of this is that it's impossible just to laze around all morning because she has things to do.

Subtopic: The cast nurse who helped me when I broke all the bones gave me life changing (for me) advice. "Don't leave a room until you're 100% done in there".  Because I was off my feet for months, I practiced that advice long enough to become a habit.  Bathroom is clean after I get ready for the day, bedroom is straightened after I get dressed, kitchen is clean after breakfast.

So usually I'm ready for the day and have my chores done by 9:00. That's almost four hours of free time.  What have I done with it, you ask.  Sometimes not one single thing.  I've found that I'm much happier when I'm purposefully doing nothing. (duh)  But not every day, otherwise it becomes depressing.  I figured out that I needed to schedule how I was going to spend free time, which is counter-intuitive, for sure.  I set an intention for each day, a small project or task.

Because of this, my rock garden is beautiful this summer.  My house is organized within an inch of its life.  The photo project is 98% finished.  I've watched up to the last season of Bones.   It's been a really nice summer and I'm feeling quite accomplished.

I'm a little worried that when the weather turns, I will not be as active and bored, even.  I guess we'll see.  However, I am enjoying the thought of not defrosting a vehicle every morning though.  The roads won't be slick.

Here is the one thing I don't like: if I need to stop at the grocery store after work.  It's the busiest time in the store, I just want to get back home (I've become a wee hermit-y) and going before work isn't an option if I'm needing cold stuff, which often I am.  Big picture, this isn't a big problem. It does lead to me just going without whatever we need for as long as I can.

Lastly, I enjoy the fact that if I am annoyed with having to go to work, for whatever reason, is that I just tell myself "It's four hours."  Four hours is nothing, big picture.

So, all this is essentially to say that I very much am glad to be working the schedule I am.  I'm relieved that I held out, as scary as it was, and I highly recommend it.  Also, it's September so back to reality.  See you again soon.