Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Club House And The Slug

I finally got around to speaking to John, aka, "the slug".
He finished the job, just 6 months after beginning what should have been 2-3 weeks of full time work. S-L-U-G.
He was finally motivated to come and finish 2 days before Xmas so that he could get paid and have some money to spend. But I was in no hurry, and actually quite busy with work and holiday preparations to deal with him. So I put him off a few days, despite his daily phone messages. He caught me by surprise one morning and I answered my phone before looking to see who it was. I promised I'd do the walk-through and get back to him. I'd asked him how much I owed him, having a sort of ball park idea with the notes I'd kept for myself. He said $1400. Oh.
Well, I knew that I had given him a total of $750 so far, subtract that from $1400 and we have $650. I left a message that he could pick up the check and be done with it. I don't want that man coming to my home anymore.
But I was wrong.
Apparently, he had the understanding (nothing was ever written down) that I was to pay him $3000 LABOR and materials would be extra. When he and my brother-in-law quoted that I thought it was labor AND materials. Most of the materials were free (left overs from construction jobs my brother-in-law did), so as that was received I figured "Yay, less money I have to pay of the $3000 I thought this project was going to cost."
Now John says I owe $1400. Well, I'm not prepared to write that check. I don't have it. And, besides, I don't think he deserves full pay for a job that took TOO long to do. I had ideas of my son being able to play there during the summer that he was six years old (and longer). We won't ever get back the summer he was six. And really, how long will he want to play in a clubhouse anyway? I wanted to take advantage of the short time he would revel in such a cool thing. How much does a missed summer cost? There's no price. It's price-less. But the Slug doesn't care too much about that.
I spoke with my brother-in-law today and he says he remembers the conversation on the quote at being $3000 for labor only. That day I gave my B-I-L $400 for materials and agreed to get the job started. I'm not sure where that $400 went, but John says he saw half of it. I suppose, even though the materials were free, I'm expected to pay for the privilege of getting freebies through my connection to him, so I won't argue that. But the $200 to John--I can argue that. He did supply some paint, but I'm pretty sure that didn't come to $200. Or maybe it did. Shit. I hate this. It's giving me a belly ache.
Now I have to argue with John and come to an agreement that neither of us will like.
I think, I'll concede to $1000-1200 and pay him in 2 installments. But I'd rather send it in the mail. Like I said, I don't want him coming 'round any more. He did decent work, but it took TOO long. And there's something about him that feels slimey. Overall, not a good feeling. But he was a friend of my B-I-L's so I went with it.
Lesson learned.
Let's move on.

Xmas Eve Celebration

Our Santa time is always December 24 eve. I think it was that way in my mom's home when she was a child, or she perhaps made the tradition herself, being a night owl and NOT a morning person. I always felt lucky that Santa, being SO busy that one night made concessions with just our family to stop by our house early so that we could get our presents sooner and not have to wait fitfully through the night, excited as all get-out, and then try to coax our parents out of their bed at the crack of dawn to open the presents. Plus, I look much better in the evening, having cleared up any puffiness and smeared mascara by then. For kids: Any child excited and happy--no such thing as a bad picture.

It was a lovely evening! Whew! I had a few palpitations before the event, given all the fights that happened last year and Dad's thoughts on trying "to get to the bottom of what really happened" last year. But no. No dredging up old crap.
Just my siblings, their families, with my parents hosting our traditional gathering on the eve of the 24th of December. I was the last to arrive, since I worked that day, but I didn't miss too much. A wonderful meal of Bami Goreng (an Indonesian noodle dish--our tradition) with croek poek (shrimp chips) was enjoyed by all and then we settled in to wait for that magic booming knock on the door when Santa would bring presents to the entry.
It was all carefully planned and then almost blown.
Mom asked my sister to make sure all the kids stayed in the family room while she heaved all the wrapped gifts to the front porch. But D went to the bathroom and left "her post" which allowed my much-too-excited-to-sit-still son to peek through the glass of the front door. He said, "Hey, there are presents outside!! Look!!"
Ai, yai, yai. Mom quickly corralled them back into the family room to pay more attention to Frosty the Snowman movie and "be good." Then she stealthily chased outside, banged on the front door and ran back towards the back door to be part of the surprised crowd in awe of what Santa had delivered (not bad for a woman with painful arthritis, I say. And why didn't dad or my brother do it?? Or any other adult with good joints? Sheesh.) But whatever. The kids were super excited and we all brought in the gifts, placed them around the tree and found a chair around the perimeter of the room to partake in the fun of opening presents. I'm usually the one that hands them out, one or two at a time so we all have the chance to ooooh and aaaaah over each one and check out the special smiles when it's something that person was so hoping to receive. T was out of his skin with glee. He wanted to help me, by reading the names and then giving the gifts. Easy enough, but he wasn't so good at balancing it out so that all family members got a chance from time to time, instead of 3 or 4 in a row for one person. But in the end it worked out just great. I always try to have the 2 youngest kids open the last gifts--and that's what worked out. Everyone was happy. Actually some were a little TOO happy. This year, Grammy came (my sister's mother-in-law who lives with them). It was lovely to have her, but boy does she like her wine! And this night, she managed to finish off a whole bottle on her own. Yikes. I think she's used to drinking a glass or two of boxed wine, but maybe she thought the bottle would go to waste if she didn't finish it. All the other drinkers (and yes, even the alcoholics in the family--there are two that I'm aware of, were drinking) were mixing vodka and cranberry juice, so they didn't help with wine drinking. See why I was so nervous? A powder keg potential, I tell ya.
Oh. I guess I answered my own question on why someone with healthy joints didn't play Santa this year. Alcohol in tiny amounts is good, but beyond that it makes for drunks. And some were clearly beyond.
The photo books for my nieces were a big hit. Yay! I was so proud that they loved them. Someone said that with that gift I'd solidified my place as "Aunt-extraordinaire". I'm cool with that.
T's big present was a Wii. He didn't really know what it was in the white box, so for the moment he was SUPER jazzed with the baseball gloves that he got, which he calls "tether ball gloves". And they really work great to hitting the ball harder so that his fists don't feel the impact. Now he'll win against the 3rd graders for sure! Those gloves look pretty fancy, so I'm wondering how long he'll have them if he takes them to school. There are sticky fingers at school, in more ways than one. (Once the Wii was set up the next day, he was hooked, and the tether ball gloves will have to wait their turn).
My big gift was a starter kit for mineral based make-up. I'd been suckered in with an in-store demo and so I thought I'd give it a try. My skin needs more help these days. Darn those sun spots and broken capillaries. Hopefully I'll be able to work the same magic with those brushes that the salesgirl did in the store.
After all the presents were unwrapped, Granny was no longer able to put a coherent sentence together and then slipped down a few steps as she tried to maneuver walking down the stairs. Shortly, she was guided into the back seat of the truck to go home, without her shoes. But I found them just before they left and handed them through the car window to an oblivious Granny.
Everyone left happy. Some too happy. No fights. Just family. Together.
And I took in a big breath and let it out slow, with a big hug for my overjoyed boy.
Mom pulled off yet another wonderful day of memories. Thanks Mom.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Coming Soon...

It's been such a busy month!
I've been keeping up with most of my obligations, but juuuust keeping my nose above the waterline, so to speak.
T is in childcare for 2 days this week (the school is out for winter break for 2 weeks), and 2 days next week. He complained about going, but at the end of the day yesterday he was a happy boy. Apparently the 5 year old that bugs him wasn't there. And he gleefully gave me some ornaments made of paper and glitter and popsicle sticks that he'd made just for me. I love being the receiver of these priceless works of art.
For the holiday: I've bought the gifts I needed to do, helped out my mom with her Santa shopping (while trying to remind her most of us are adults and really don't NEED gifts). She just can't be reigned in. It's a time of year she revels in and even though she had done ZERO shopping until last week (due to her car being out for nearly a month) she still managed to get too many things for each of us. Some of my siblings, although fully grown, are still quite immature in their expectations on what "Santa" should bring. Always will be, I expect. Especially when Mom keeps doing it up the way she does, every year.
I work all week this week, except for Christmas. Today, after work, I have to jam to get T from daycare, zip home, bake brownies, divide 'em up and make pretty plates for a few of my neighbors (excluding the jerk across the street--although I thought about overcoming my anger and include them. But... No. Not doing it.) Then bringing all the gifts I wrapped to my parents and hiding them until Santa will be arriving, while keeping some behind around our tree to be found when we arrive back home. We'll be staying the night at my parents, like we usually do. The tradition that has evolved is that we find a few more gifts that Santa has left at our home under the tree and open it up on the morning of the 25th.
Then, the 26th is Mom's birthday and we have plans to take her out with a train trip to SF and see the holiday lights and bustle there. We've done that the last 5 or so years and she loves it. Dad has never come. We kind of don't invite him, although we actually have made it possible a few times for him to come too, but he declines (and Mom is quite tickled about that--it ends up being a stressful day if Dad comes. He's just a stress-tab, more and more as he ages.) Mom needs some peace (and that usually includes time away from Dad) and we try to give her that on her birthday. And a cream puff. GOT to have a cream puff from Beard Papa's. Man! If you have the chance to try one--get the eclair with vanilla custard. Yum-my!
The Playhouse in the backyard is finally finished! The slug came by a few days ago (unannounced, out the blue after a long hiatus) and finished up. He called me as I was waiting for another call, so I cut him short. He called again yesterday and left a message about how I was supposed to do a "walk through and then pay him, hopefully before the holiday." Well, I just don't feel like being in any kind of hurry--given he took SIX MONTHS to do a 2-3 week job. I have NO idea how much money he'll want, but I don't' think it should be much. I've already paid him quite a sum. We shall see...once I get around to speaking to him.
The rest of the backyard is a muddy mess. I won't be able to get the tether ball pole up by the end of the year. It's just too wet and yucky. But Dad did make a nice 9 x 12 foot planter box, so I can start shoveling dirt into it and get some things going. But the rain and mud make it impossible right now. It will happen by Spring or before, I hope.
My computer is on its last legs. I got a message from it recently that said there was very little space on the virtual memory or something like that. That makes me nervous. So I don't want to upload anything to upset the whole thing. I need to make CDs of all the information I have stored and all the pictures (I've just put all my pictures on Shutterfly, in case some virus attacked my files or something horrible like that) but I really should make my own CDs for safe storage and access. Speaking of Shutterfly...those photo books I created for my nieces turned out SO nice. I'm quite proud of them. I hope my nieces like them too. While I was at it, I made a nice calender featuring my favorite subject: T. I called it: T Being Five and Six Years Old. I made a copy for us, my parents and my cousin in Holland (who has always had a special bond with me). I feel quite confident now with my new skills (and the countless hours I spent on those books!) and may offer up my time and energy to create a yearbook for T's first grade class. One of the parents made one for the kinder year and it's one of T's favorite books to look through. If someone doesn't come up with the idea before I offer, I'm definitely going to do it. The class has a yahoo group and so far parents have been posting their pictures up of the field trips and various events at school. It should be easy with all that material compiled in one place.
I'll be shopping for a new computer in the new year. Probably another PC, since that's all I know. I hear Macs are user friendly, but I'm chicken to step out of my PC comfort zone.
I hope you all have had/will have a lovely Christmukkah!
God Bless you all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Visit With Santa

When visiting Santa recently we accidentally went on "Santa Paws" night and no kids were allowed--only pets.
Thanks to some generous pet owners we didn't leave disappointed and even had a much cuter pose with Santa and some one's canine "child". Fortunately, T has suddenly stopped panicking around dogs and anything with a potential to nip or bite him. Whew! If this change of heart is really cured, maybe we can get a doggie of our own. T is already asking....

This year, T is asking Santa for Apples to Apples game and also "tether ball gloves". They can't be found in any sporting goods store, as my mom found out. They are just regular knitted gloves so that T can hit the ball harder without hurting his knuckles. He's what's called a "hard ball" on the school tether ball court, he said proudly--and with gloves he can hit the ball even better!
The backyard is still a mud pit, but I did get the tether ball set and it's hidden in the garage until I get it cemented in place in the yard. Hopefully by Xmas...

Knock, knock....

Who's there?
Olive who?
Olive that you came for a visit at my humble blog!

OK, I made that one up, but for really cute jokes, visit this site I found.

Here is a great site for knock-knock jokes. It's easy to memorize a few and spring them on your friends, or your kids and their friends! Instant smiles for everyone.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Brain block

Every day, just about, I want to post something to share.
T comes up with stories that I think are excellent ingredients for a good blog post...but when I get to the computer I can only remember a few lines of the conversation and then writing down what I do remember makes for a sucky post. So...silence on the blog. But really, there is quite a bit of things I could say.
I found a site that has a ton of knock-knock jokes. Ok, maybe not a ton, but there are 170. Plenty to keep us busy. T has picked his favorites, that he can remember and he'll spring it on it teacher and friends this week.
I decided I HAVE to do something in the interim to make my backyard habitable while I collect funds to put my plans into action. My dad came over yesterday and together we did quite a bit of digging and prep work for getting the backyard in decent shape again. The "club house" is still in limbo. The slug hasn't shown for 2 weeks, despite my phone calls. T had a tough time seeing some of the old plants (rose bushes and rosemary) get pulled out and placed in the green garbage. He hates to see anything go. Anything. Even if it means it makes room from new plants, and a beautful garden WITH a tetherball! Or new toys. Whatever it is. It's like a death to see it go. Although it's a pain to deal with at the time of "separation" from the old thing, I think it's a good sign about what it means to be T. I think his being attached to the things in his little world means he has a sensitive heart. He has "soul", if that makes any sense. Because as wild and crazy as my boy can be, it's sometimes hard to fetter out that he really feels deeply for anything that doesn't have an immediate positive impact on him. Not sure that makes sense, but I think I know what I'm trying to say.
He was all pouty and upset with the changes and loss of our roses. But he was over it in about 30 minutes. I can't wait to put the tetherball up for him. Should be all done in the next 3-4 weeks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New words..and how to use them

While exiting the freeway that runs near the aiport, there's an excellent view of the runway and the jets taking off and landing.
T says "You see that? Isn't that adorable?"

Adorable? Jets? An airport? Maybe it is!

I love the new vocabulary he picks up...and the creative ways he uses it.
The PBS cartoon "Martha Speaks" is excellent for learning new words, btw (and fun to watch too).

Thursday, October 22, 2009


  • I’ve been using every available computer time for the past 8 days in creating the first of 3 photo books. I’m in the zone! The first one is the largest—about 300 pictures from my trip to NYC and Paris with my niece. I haven't tried other products, but sh*tterfly is making it easy to artistic. Boy, are my nieces going to be excited at Christmas! I can hardly keep it a secret.

  • Last Sunday, we went to a pumpkin patch. T played on all the slides and jumpy houses until he was covered in sweat and smiles. And we found two perfect pumpkins for carving! (pictures to follow)

  • The slug comes occasionally, but doesn’t seem to get much done on the club house. Hence, reinforcing the nick name. But it’s too late in the progress/process to hire someone else. I’m getting sooo tired of this project. (pictures to follow soon-ish)

  • T will be a zombie for Halloween. I usually dress up too, but I think I’ll just be wearing a black T-shirt that says “Happy Halloween” this year. Maybe I’ll paint a pumpkin on my face….

  • I’m really digging the volunteer time at T’s school. I work with 5th graders (about 10 years old) with reading—and most need help. It’s so rewarding to see the improvements. And I’m finding and donating clothing items and other sundries to the Student Store. Mom has been EXCELLENT at scouring Goodwill and Savers stores for cheap items. This is a store where kids can spend their “Tiger Tickets” for merchandise. They earn the Tiger Tickets with good behavior and making good choices. Plus, I’m still in T’s class, mostly helping the readers with the greatest need.

  • My brother still has not looked for a job. I’ve given him until April 1st to pull it together, but either way, he’ll be finding a new place to live. Tough love, baby.

  • I did a voice over for a presentation on infertility for those that are looking to start treatment. I was a little nervous and sometimes I stuttered, but, it turned out pretty nice. Now, not only can I be found on the Internet, but one can also hear my voice (even though I’m anonymously speaking!). Well, I know it’s me. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Tooth Fairy And The Storm

Everyday, all day, T asks to play a game--any game. If there's no game handy, he'll make up a game with a handful of rules that I have to pay attention to, but not necessarily him (since it's his game, he argues). Oh and sometimes I get to make up a rule too, but he gets veto power if he would rather another rule take it's place.

His favorite games lately are "Two square" which is really taking turns hitting a a big rubber ball on a wall. And lots of "rock, paper, scissors" (aka ro-sham-bo)to determine who gets to serve this time. Often we have to do this multiple times to see who wins twice. He also loves "Hang man", which is great for learning about spelling and penmanship. And it works during car rides too. Then there's any kind of cards. He's great at dealing and getting better at shuffling. Again, the rules might change as we go along, but he's pretty good at remembering the changes and reminding ME of them too. Often. He loves to be in charge and in control. Hmmmm. Where does he get that from? He also loves to play games on PBSkids.org. That's such a great site for kids. He really doesn't need me to play, but loves having my attention and the inevitable and frequent cheering I always do.

Where is she going with this?, you might be thinking...

Anyway....yesterday we were playing Two Square up against the garage door. Whenever we play, he's come to know that there is always something I have to do and play time will be cut shorter than he wants (Someone has to clean the house and cook dinner, not that he cares.). This time we were using a soccer ball as the favorite rubber ball popped under the stress of finding a big fat thorn on our lemon tree. I was able to play much longer this time because in my mind I knew I was going to make some sort of dinner out of the odd ends of left overs. (It ended up being Tuna Melts with tomatoes--yummy!) After a good long time of play, Oma drove up for a visit. It's always fun when my mom comes. We all decided to take a break and have a cup of tea. Mom also brought a dark chocolate bar to share along side the tea. In short time, tea was served and the bar pieced out. I barely sat down to chit chat with mom, when suddenly T yelled out "Mom!" He was sitting on the couch (against my better judgement because I could immediately see the tea being spilled all over) watching The Aristocats while he kept one ear on our conversation with his tea cup balanced on a pillow on his lap. What happened???, I think, as my mind races a thousand directions.

Well, thank goodness the tea (tepid with milk and sugar, btw) was still clutched properly in his little fingers. But the other hand was on his mouth along with a curious look on his face. Apparently he had bitten into the square of chocolate and that was all it took to knock out that slightly wiggly tooth he's had. It was nearly out. Oh, I could hardly stand it. I wanted to just yank it, but he said, "No. I can do it." The more he touched it the more it bled. And I SO wanted to "help" him. My brother said he'd give him a dollar if T could pull it out. And then my mom chimed in and said she would pony up a dollar too. Well, now it's ON! He put his tea carefully on the table and went to the bathroom mirror to check it out. Yep. It was nearly out. T was excited but also fearful of potential pain...and blood. I said I just want to feel it (but I guess he knows me by now), so he reminded me, again, that he could do it. Oooooo. Ok, hands off.

And then, suddenly, it was out. In his little hand. Baby tooth #5. He was so proud. See...

And he received his booty of $2 for his courage. He asked if he could put it in his piggy bank and, of course, I said yes. He doesn't really have to ask but it makes it more ceremonious if everyone comes to watch. He placed the treasured tooth in his silver tooth box and placed it under his pillow. Surely, the tooth fairy will come tonight and then he'll get even MORE money!
T decided he didn't want to eat any more of that chocolate. Clearly, it was too hard for his little teeth. But he finished his tea. And the next cup too.

But what about the storm? It's coming.

For days we've been warned by every meteorologist about the coming storm. It's a doozy. The first one of the season and it's going to be dumping MAJOR rain. It's coming from the North, so it'll be colder than normal and it's mixing with tail of a typhoon from the South, so LOTS and LOTS of rain. Well, that's good news for our perpetually parched earth. We are always being reminded to conserve water--shorter showers, grass is not as thirsty as you think, please plant drought-friendly plants, etc. So rain is welcome, right? But oh! This will be a BIG storm, so get ready. Pick up your sand bags, clear the gutters, don't drive if you don't have to. It was so nice on Monday--the calm before the storm. By the evening the big dark clouds were rolling in off the Pacific Ocean, just like the satellite pictures predicted. It was kinda cool to anticipate. I kept looking outside to see if it hit yet. I put the boy to bed at the usual time, and sat down at my computer to organize and arrange my pictures. I have 3 projects I am making myself do--online prepared scrap books. I've procrastinated enough! It's my first time, but I've seen others do it and it turns out really nice. Two books will be on the vacations I've taken each of my nieces (Paris and then Kauai), which I'm very late in creating. And the third one is for my son. I plan to make a homemade book with pictures and narration on "THE STORY OF ME, and how I came to be.". It's a convoluted story and I want it to be told like a children's bedtime story, to be enjoyed with actual pictures of me and all the people who were key in each stage of the challenges I'd overcome to create him. And of course, lots of pictures of him. In my mind, it's beautiful. Hopefully, it will be just as nice in reality.
Anyway...I went to bed way after midnight. No storm yet.

But by morning it was raging!! I know--rain is no big deal to most of the world, but we Californians are wimps. We don't get much for weather (which is why we all love to live here) so when we get RAIN that looks like it's coming down in BUCKETS--dense enough to see the wind gust and swirl...it's something to stare at in awe and amazement. All kinds of road problems ensue, power outages, flash flood warnings, downed trees, and mud slides. It's something we should be better prepared for, but every year, we have the same troubles. I love the smell outside when it rains. Everything seems so...um...shiney and clean. I was enjoying this storm.

T woke up a little earlier than usual for school. Immediately he started playing a game--and goading me into playing too. This time: hang-man, while I fixed his lunch and our breakfasts. Suddenly, he twists around and says, "Mama! I wonder if the tooth fairy came!!!"

Oh crap.

I'd been so busy with all the pictures and uploading and arranging, that I totally forgot to be the Tooth Fairy!

Think. Quickly!

"Um, T...it' really stormy out and it's been that way all night. I know sometimes the Tooth Fairy can't make it in really rainy, stormy weather."
"But, she's invisible!" he says.
"Well, when it rains a lot her wings get wet and she can't fly."


He says, after the slightest pause..."Well, let's go check!"


So we both go and find the little silver box under his pillow. And, wouldn't you know it? The tooth was still in the box. (I felt awful. Bad mama. Bad, bad mama.)

But T just shrugs and says, "Well, that's OK. I already have 2 dollars, so I that's alright."

"Yeah", I say, "But more money is even better! I bet she'll come tonight, if the weather is better." He agrees, but he's not phased or upset. But I am.

The storm seems to have passed now, and the weather is agreeable for the Tooth Fairy to make it to our house. She's coming tonight. For sure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Letter From My Son

Last Sunday, while in the shower (scrubbing my filthy-but-thank-god-he's-home cat), my son came to me and said, "Mama, when you are done with your shower, come and look at what I did on the computer." He seemed quite proud of himself. I told him I would be there soon.

A few minutes later, he escorted me towards to computer screen. And this is what he typed, all by himself. He even opened a new Word document, all on his own.

I love you mom because you are sweet to me and you are not being mean to me. the end thank you. because you are being nice to me. ok its the end. bye bye. Seallater. ok now i am done.

I love you. ok iam done.

Pretty good for a 6 year old!
What a little angel. It's moments like this that make up for all the difficult times when I'm scratching my head for the next best disciplinary action I can take to get his behavior to improve.

I think we're doing OK.

ok i am done.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


My kitty has been found!!!!
I worked all day today and went straight over to my parents to pick up my son.
After dinner, we headed home.
When we arrived, there was a note taped on my front door that read:
"Good news! Hans has been found! He is being housed at Mimi's house. Love, Pat and Jen."
Mimi lives 2 doors down from us!
I freaked out and immediately started squealing that Hans had been found. T thought I was hurt at first and then he was just as giddy as I was. We took off running down the street to collect our kitty cat. But Mimi wasn't home. Bummer. But I can't blame a girl for going out on a Saturday night! I left her a note that she should call me when she gets in and that we were SO HAPPY Hans was found!
In the mean time I went to my neighbors, Pat and Jen, to get the scoop. Apparently Hans has spent the majority of the past 6 days in the backyard of my other neighbor--2 doors down and across the street. Bob had noticed him in his backyard last Sunday (the day he went missing) and then he was gone a couple days, but came back. Bob didn't know he was missing. I hadn't gone out to blanket the street and had only told 4-5 neighbors so far. I had planned to go door-to-door tomorrow and put the word out to look for a cat I was sure would be dead (or near dead) at this point. Today Bob became curious about this kitty hanging out in his backyard and decided to pick up the cat and look at the collar ID. Then he walked to the front. My other neighbors suddenly started chatting "There's Hans! He's been missing!" Bob hadn't realized I was missing my pet. Apparently, Hans was loving all the attention, according to Pat and Jen.
Mimi called me a little later and I came over to get him. His paw pads are a little worn and he's very, very skinny--but he seems totally fine. Mimi said he ate a whole bowl of cat food at her house. When I saw him he just sat there in the middle of Mimi's room. But after 30 seconds or so, he walked over to me--and I scooped him and up!
I'm SO happy my neighbors were all looking out for me and my kitty.
Finally, I know what happened to Hans. He survived for 7 nights and 6 days on his own, just a stone's throw from home. I don't think he had any food, but must have found enough water to keep him alive. He did much better than I thought he would.
Big, big sigh.....
Welcome home Hans.
The pressure over my heart is lifted and life in our house is as it was.
Darn good.


Nada. No kitty.
I've posted on Craig's list, the Humane Society and 2 different Animal shelters. I've visited the shelters too--he's not there.
It's been 6 nights and he's still missing. I imagine the worst--either some psychopath is torturing him to death or he's been killed by a car. He had a collar on so if someone with a heart found him, they'd have called me by now. I wish I'd had him "chipped". Then I could rest assured that if any shelter found him, they could easily reunite us.
What ever has happened, I need to know. I need to see his body, so I can know the last place he went to.
I used to think of my cat as just a cat--plucked out of a litter of other cats. Same blank look on his face as every other cat and behaved not unlike a ba-zillion other cats in personality. But after searching through SO many cats, I've realized that MY cat was very unique. A needle in a haystack. And no other cat will do. Finding HIM and only him will be able to quell this empty pressure sitting on my heart. I can't stop glancing everywhere when I drive through my neighborhood. I need to find him.
I'm losing hope that he might just wander back to home, but please. Let me find him SOMEwhere.
T is not upset at all, though. His first response to realizing Hans was gone was, "Well, I guess we just have to get another one!" He just doesn't seem to care one way or another. I think he's concerned that I might be sad over our missing pet (although I noticed he calls Hans "your cat", instead of owning him also). The truth is he's been more fearful of being nipped by our cat than had the opportunity to bond with him. Only once was he brave enough to allow Hans to sit on his lap. I took pictures of the event--not thinking it wouldn't ever happen again. T is afraid of all animals and goes into a near panic if a dog wants to play and chases him or gets too close and tries to lick him. I think he's settling down now and doesn't panic quite so quickly, but it's a slow process.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm very distraught today.
My kitty cat, who had been my housemate ever since I bought my house, 14 years ago, has vanished. Through those 14 years he's been my mostly silent partner (talks to me most mornings but quiet the rest of the day and night) to cuddle with in the evenings. I'd never been a "cat person" before, (and honestly HATE the cat hair everywhere!) but when I moved on my own, I needed someone to be there with me. That was Hans (named after the Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates movie I'd watched the night before I found him at the animal shelter). He is a beautiful cat with bright blue eyes, slightly cross-eyed. A look that made him even more endearing to me. His favorite place to be was in my lap, purring and cuddling. And he was really good at getting his paws around my arms or neck to get in a better cuddle. He'd been de-clawed long ago, and so he was strictly an in-door kitty. In the last few years, I'd gotten lazy and allowed him to wander the backyard garden when he wanted to lay in the sun. A few times he got out the front door--but when he did, within a short time I would see him sitting on the window sill waiting to be let back in. I think he knew our immediate neighborhood well enough to find his way back.
Last Sunday evening I was taking out garbage from the backyard through the garage. The door was open--and I remember him wandering about. But that's the last time I saw him. He never came back home.
He has a collar with his name and ID information--but no one has called.
I have to think the worst by now. Either he got hit by a car or someone has him. But if someone has him, they would have called me by now, wouldn't they? Some co-workers have said that when cats get old or sick they just disappear and sometimes you can find them in small spaces after they've died.
I just can't imagine that happened. He seemed quite well. A little older, belly hanging a bit, thinning around the hips, but still had energy to chase fantasy mouses and bugs now and again.
I put up a Lost Cat notice on the Animal Humane Society web site, but I don't have high hopes that I'll hear anything.
I just keep pacing my home, looking in all the hiding spaces he's known to sleep in and checking several times a night for the shadow of my cat to be there on the other side of the window or door.
I hope I find him soon. I feel awful.
If he died in our home due an illness or being old, that's expected. But for him to die on his own or due to my negligence--that's hard to swallow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Unintentional Compliment

Recently I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned. Actually the one doing the work was the hygienist who just happens be be a very close friend. She felt the "all around" X-ray of my teeth/jaw was needed this visit too. So, I was escorted into a small closet-type space with a device dangling about the level of my mouth. Before she positioned the X-ray machine she asked me, "Is there any chance you could be pregnant?" Immediately I grinned. Then I had to stop myself from breaking out into a fit of laughter ('cause when I laugh, I've been told, people hear it--from great distances--in a good way....so they say).
Then, a few days later, I was having my routine mammogram. The woman in charge who would shortly compress what God gave me into the thickness of your average buttermilk pancake (in TWO different directions, mind you!), asked me "Any chance you could be pregnant, or are you trying to become pregnant?"
Yowza! Really? I love that you asked! That means that you think I might actually be having sex with someone. (I'm not, but it's already exciting that someone THINKS I might be.) AND that you think I'm young enough that I could get pregnant!
Wow. You couldn't have said a nicer thing.

Small confession: I'm 47. But my ovaries think I'm old enough to collect social security.
And I'll deny my age at almost any occasion. It's a hang-up. I know. I'm working on it. But, it's a big step that I wrote it here and am sharing it with you. ;)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Garage Sale

I got up before 6AM to start putting things out and try to come up with prices for things along the way. My mom spent the night so she was up early along with me. It was more fun together. Fortunately T slept until 8:30! Totally unusual for him, but turned out excellent for me! I was afraid he'd be freaking out at all of his toys and clothes out for sale. He kept telling me all summer that just because he doesn't play with a toy for a long time, it's not because he doesn't want it--he just forgot about it for a while. "So don't sell it, OK Mama?"
It didn't matter that I tried to justify that if we sold the baby toys that means we had more room in our house for NEW toys. Uh-uh. What's mine is mine, in the eyes of a 6 year old. And that means forever.
He came out of the house, fully dressed in the outfit he picked out all by himself (I usually pick out the clothes, so they match). But he didn't do a bad job! Nice job T! And he wasn't freaking out with all the stuff set out to sell. He admitted that he was scared of having a garage sale before, but he's not scared anymore. Whew!
My brother also woke up semi-early and helped quite a bit. Plus he made all the brightly colored signs and put them up in the neighborhood, strung colorful flags across the driveway and placed helium balloons around the yard with the words "Garage Sale" on them.
The customers started coming at 7:45!!! Sheesh. I knew they'd come early, but I specifically said in my Craig's List posting that I was open at 9AM!! After a while I was afraid I was missing too many opportunities and I started to sell stuff at 8:30.
Every thing went really well! There were no super-pushy people that tried to haggle to a ridiculously low price (well, OK there was one woman but she didn't get away with super expensive item.). I think I sold about 2/3 of the stuff I had. Including a lady's fur coat from the 1960's that mom had brought over! Even the neighbor across the street, whom I don't really speak to anymore, broke the silence and came over to buy a tricycle and a Leapster alphabet toy. So we chatted and I feel things are OK between she and I. (Still not speaking to her husband, but I've decided to stop being angry and will occasionally wave to them if they're outside.).
In total, I made $482!!! That's amazing! My mom and I split it 50/50. She helped a lot with the sale, and if I'm being honest...she probably bought most of the stuff I was selling! My brother made a few bucks selling some of his old fishing rods--so he was happy with that. And T did great taking the money and putting it in the drawer. He even learned to figure out and make change to give back to the customer. We'll have to work on his eye contact during the transactions--but he did great! He was all about collecting money. That boy LOVES to take money and put it in his piggy bank. Something he's picked up from me, I think. I mean, where else would it come from? Or maybe it's an inherited trait? Either way, it's a good habit to learn, huh?

Friday, September 18, 2009


Well, I'm excited. The slug working on the club house has shown up 3 days this week and gotten some real work done. It's gettin' there. I still haven't spoken to him since he generally gets there after I leave and packs up before I come home. I'm sure he'll call me when he needs money.
Dad made a surprise visit to my house just before dinner time. I called mom, who had not quite yet arrived as expected and asked what was going on. She said, "Oh he's been talking about how much he missed T and said he might come by." So with the whole gang at my house, I opted for the easy dinner choice: Pizza. So I picked up a couple at Round Table (the best pizza I know!) armed with my 15% off coupon. I got $7 off my order and then the owner gave me back my coupon so I could use it another time! Wasn't that sweet? I told him I certainly would use it! Thanks, fella! Hmmm...was he flirting with me, or making it more likely a good customer would come back? Who knows.... But I like it when a man gives me a special treat with a beautiful smile. He's kinda cute, too. Now, I know what you're thinking. But, I don't think there's any potential. Well, OK. We'll just see how the next visit to the pizza parlor goes.
My mom stayed over last night with the intent of getting things going for the yard sale...but then Survivor was starting and we got all excited. Dad took his cue and left. He hates Survivor--all that conniving and back stabbing. I defend myself: It's entertainment, not life lessons to live by.
So much for doing actual work. We grinned at each other and sat down on the sofa. We were horrified with one contestant--a mean, manipulating, multi-millionaire who owns his own oil factory, for goodness sakes! We want him booted off ASAP! He's doing things like dumping his team-mates water out of their canteens, burning their socks in the fire while they sleep, and telling lies everywhere. Anything to make everyone tired, cranky, on edge and in a fighting mood. He's a mole. Only two people see him as the conniving SOB that he is--and one of them was voted off--totally due to the mole's (also known as Russell) nasty lies. He's horrible. I can't believe that ANYONE in the business world would want to work with him. He's completely untrustworthy, and an ASS. We'll see how things go. I'm going to keep tuning in. I'm a fan. A total fan to this show. And also to the Biggest Loser. LOVE that show! I've made it a rule, thanks to Bob, to do sit-ups, or squats with weights during every commercial break. And those breaks are LONG, I tell you. Didn't they used to be, like, every 15 minutes or so we'd have 2 minutes, 2 seconds of commercials before the regularly scheduled programming came back? Not anymore. I haven't actually timed it, but I think it's more in the range of 8 minutes--with about 8-10 minutes of the DESIRED programming thrown in between commercials. What happened to the rules?? They didn't ask the public to weigh in on it, because I KNOW we all would have said no to that change. But when you use the time to workout--it does, or will, bring great benefit to my legs and bum! If only I could stick to that rule with EVERY TV program I watch. So far, it's only with the Biggest Loser. They inspire me. :)
Wish me luck with the hard-bargaining yard sale shoppers tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

So slow....

The progress on the "club house" in my backyard is SO slow. The guy I hired to do the job rarely shows. He has no car either! You just can't do much without a car around here! And when he does find someone to drive the 30 minutes it takes to get to my house, he stays for an hour or two tops, and then he's gone again. I know he doesn't like working here when my lazy-ass brother is here 100% of the time watching TV and never offering to help. It's not something I'm proud of--but knowing my brother, it's predictable. He's lazy and just loves to cut someone down when he can. He had lots to hand down in how the electrical work was being done. But then, for Pete's sake, can he HELP him do it right instead of just point out all the wrong doings and non-code short cuts? It's not so much the information, but how he says it. Demeaning.
But still. The guy should have been done by now. It's a small project and he started it the first week of July. He had some valid excuses (his mother took ill and he had to make sure she was place in home, dialysis going, etc...) but the work is not getting done. He said she was settled weeks ago. Now, I just don't even want to talk to him. So I called my brother in law (the one that recommended this slug-handyman) and he gave him what-for over the phone. And THAT'S why he materialized in my backyard today. Damn. I was kind of looking forward to firing him and hiring the contractor my neighbor used. She can't say enough nice things on what he'd done for them with their home remodel. Oh well. The expectation is that the slug will finish this week (according to my B-I-L). I sure hope so. The weather has been weird and we've had some nasty thunderstorms and rain. I'd like to get my stuff settled and out of whatever weather comes our way.
In the vein of getting my stuff moving...I'm having a garage sale this Saturday. What a pain. Lots of prep work. But I've got to clear out the garage and organize it so my brother's stuff can vacate the still post-demolition backyard and then some REAL work can start in creating my dream outdoor space. I'll post some pictures of the transformation soon. So far, I've just got before shots and some from the jack hammer day. It's a mess.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thank you PW!

I've become a die-hard fan of Pioneer Woman (aka PW by some). She's AMAZING. Honestly, I don't know how she finds the time to do all she does and then blog about it all. And she homeschools too! Her blog is some good clean fun. She has some helpers (and that's my excuse for why she is able to put such a blog together, but really she can't be human. But no. She is.) I've learn a bunch about taking great pictures, and even more valuable--how to mess with 'em in Photoshop so that they pop off the page, or screen.
Last night I tried her recipe for Shrimp Quesedillas. It seemed so simple. So I stopped by the market on my way home from work, grabbed some shrimp and mexican red sauce and headed for home (mom picked T up from school to bring him to Tae Kwon Do, and then back home). Within 45minutes I whipped out a wonderful, totally new-to-me meal. I felt pretty proud. Everyone loved it.
If you haven't checked her out, please do.
PS. She didn't pay me to write that. She doesn't know I exist (I'm pretty sure).

Love, and raking up embers

I've been reading blogs and taking the time to read long ago published posts. It's fun to get to know my new friends; to find common ground and learn what makes them different from anyone else. I like my new friends. And some don't even know I exist (at least I think so...).
Some of my friends have had the most beautiful things happen to them. There has been sadness and even some tragic news, but I'm finding myself more attracted to the stories on the miracle of love lately. There have been more than a few of these stories in the past weeks. I'm SO happy to hear about it. I drink it in. I need it too. I surely do. I'm ready for it to be now.
Love. It's like a drug, isn't it? I'm so happy to read that it really happens to folks doing the same sort of thing that I do. Regular women. Strong women. Smart women. I think I'm slowly beginning to accept that the only male I might love is the six year old that calls me Mama. And I'm not knocking that, but you know what I mean....
I didn't realize why at the time, but a few months ago I started trolling the search box on Faceb**k for friends from long ago. It's fun to connect with old friends. But more and more I was looking for ex-boyfriends, male friends from the old neighborhood, anyone that I might have been attracted to before. I know, it's like recycling. But I knew them once and there's a sense of shared history, making it more comfortable from the start. Most, curiously, are not on FB. And they don't come up on a G0Ogle search either. I guess I fell for guys that were mostly not computer fans. I've found one--but he hasn't "friended" me yet. Maybe he senses what my motives might be. This is the first time I've tried to contact him in over 20 years. I had heard he married, and has kids (I can clearly see them in his posted FB pic) but marriages often break up--one never knows. Or rather, hope never dies...Depending on your perspective. He lives in another state, so he's not even geographically desirable, but I'm just looking for a little excitement. Some emailing, sharing of stories and highlights of the last 20 or so years. But nothing. I can't find any embers to rake!
I wonder if the next 10 years will be just like the last, romantically. A big fat ZERO. Oh, except for that guy that I dated a few times, after reconnecting at the high school reunion. I was SO ready for love, it surprised me how quickly I fell for him (since I'd known him since the 3rd grade!), but he was just getting out of marriage #2 and his heart needed more time to heal. I knew all this, but he seemed ready ('cause that's what I wanted) since it was HE that came to me. Rebound stuff, I guess. And that event happened EIGHT years ago. I'm sure his heart is all better now, but I still haven't heard a word. I know roughly where to find him (thanks to the update in address information at the last reunion), but I can't go to his home and make up some story about how I was just in the neighborhood. If he wanted me, he knows how to find me. I've lived at the same place for the last 14 years and I'm totally G00glable. *sigh*

So, I'm putting it out there to the Internet and the Universe:
I want to fall in love.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The other shoe dropped

Now it's Dad's turn:
Tuesday, my dad phoned early in the morning and asked if I could accompany him to his doctor's appointment in Urology. He forgot about the appointment the day before and the doctor had called him to make sure we got in to discuss his diagnosis and possible treatment plan. The first thought I had was "It's starting. The march towards death is beginning." Breathe. Breathe again.
That already doesn't sound good.
It just so happened I had the day off (as I work this Saturday) so I had all day for this. Other nameless errands can be put off.
Mom decided to come too. Six ears are better than 2, I say!
When Dr. Harris came in I was pleasantly surprised. He was quite charming and totally cute. Just the kind of guy I'd like to date--no wedding ring, decent physical shape, a little on the short side, but I'm willing to overlook that, nice smile, beautiful blue eyes...) I started day dreaming immediately. But pulled it together quick enough--I only lost the first 20-30 seconds of the introductions. :)
Aww. He's probably gay. But maybe not. How can I find out? Isn't this way inappropriate??
Dad has prostate cancer. He had bladder cancer last Spring but that was totally unrelated to this, according to the cute doc. We were told that 100% of men that reach 90 have prostate cancer, and about 2/3 of men in their 70's have it. Dad is 78. So this was expected, I guess. Good thing is that prostate cancer is the slowest growing cancer known to man (or woman). He layed out the treatment options: surgery, radiation, hormone therapy or expectant (do nothing and continue to monitor PSA blood tests). All treatment plans except the last one have side effects, and it didn't sound too appetizing.
So after all the talk and questions answered, Dad decided on just following the PSA tests every 6 months and if they spiked unexpectedly he might consider the hormone therapy. That sounded about right to me too. It's weird that you wouldn't treat cancer aggressively, knowing that something else is much more likely to threaten the life of a 78+ aged man. Scary to stare down at death's door.
Dad had a bone scan done a few weeks ago and the results were inconclusive. He may or may not have cancer metastasized to the right femur, but it was impossible to tell by the scan alone. Dad has no symptoms. So that's good.
But dad is very good at denial of any diagnosis. He calls it being "Christian Science--like" and just thinking positive about health. Letting God or the universe take care of it. It doesn't really help when the diagnosis is diabetes and so there is no effort to change diet or exercise routines. Dad has always been passionate about 2 things: Food and music. So I don't see him changing his ways on account of a little thing like DM II ("number two" he says--like it's a little thing and way less serious than DM I. I guess it is in many cases, but still shouldn't be discounted either!)
Dr. Harris asked if I could be present at all future visits since dad's memory isn't as good as it used to be and to help explain things should he forget. Dad seemed a bit surprised that he would make that request. I guess it's more obvious to others than just my mom and I. But I'm listed as the go-to girl in both their Advance Directives and Trust/will so I really should be there and hear things from "the horse's mouth" instead of relying on what dad tells me is going on.
I wrote Dr. Harris an email the next day and gave him my contact information to be place in my dad's chart. (And of course, I fantasized that he might continue to chat with me socially. Ha! It's desperation...as you can see I've got nothin' going on in that department.)
After the visit we had a nice cup of coffee at my house and then walked over to the nearby Chinese restaurant for a lovely lunch that dad sprung for.
In a couple of weeks he'll undergo another cystoscopy to check on the bladder cancer treatment success.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So far, so good

Well, Mom was in the ED for over 6 hours last night.
They did an EKG, CT scan, a couple of chest Xrays (why one, let alone two?? Something about looking at her heart), blood tests, urine tests, more blood tests, and LOTS of blood pressure readings with continuous pulse oximetry. And after all that, to her understanding, she was OK. They said that they couldn't be totally sure about any brain bleed unless they did a spinal tap. And Mom, knowing that it could make her persistent headache much worse, said "Nope. Lets call the testing done." They forgot to feed her (but eventually got a sandwich) and after the warm blankets she didn't feel too much like a popsicle being scrutinized in a tiny room with with crazy bright florenscent lighting. She said everyone (but one guy) was so sweet to her and she really felt well cared for. Thank goodness for that. I take it personally when the place I work doesn't do a stellar job in caring for any patient--let alone one that's my mother.
So, now I hope that the darned headache (and generally yuck feeling) goes away and she's back to being her chipper self.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mom and the Thunderclap Headache

Last Sunday my mom, T and the three guys from Holland took the train up to SF for a day of touring, cable car riding and general exploring.
At one point we were walking down Powell and saw an elevator on the outside of the Fairmont Hotel. It looked like a fantastic vantage point to check out SF from high up. But to get to the entrance of the hotel we had to hike up Sacramento Street. From Powell looking up, it appeared to be at a 45 degree angle. Yikes. But only one city block, so we crossed the street and started the climb. We were all huffing and puffing in no time, and all conversation ceased without the breath to speak. Near the top of the hill, mom started to moan and said there was a knife inside her skull to the right side. It stabbed her with every heart beat. We were all pretty worried but she seemed to be recovering quickly, once we had her sit down, catch her breath and drink some water. And then a woman from the hotel staff walked by and said she used to get bad headaches when she wasn't used to walking the hills too. So we all felt a little better with that bit of information.
An hour or so later we at Lombard Street. She had been waiting there as she arrived in a cable car ahead of me. We decided to walk down the crookedest street and then take a picture from the bottom. No trouble here. Nice views too.
But when we were walking up the steps, Mom suddenly fell. This is always scary since she's been diagnosed with osteoporosis and has broken both elbows with falls in the past. She said her "leg just gave out" and she hadn't tripped. Thank goodness she didn't break a bone but her wrist was sort of sore.
The rest of the day she seemed absolutely fine. We did a LOT of walking and normally she's behind me in speed but this time I was the slow poke. I'd forgotten all about the horrible headache she'd had.
The next day, she said she was sort of sore all over, her arthritis was bothering her and that headache was still with her. It wasn't anything like it was but still sort of nagging and making her tired. But she blew it off and took Motrin.
Now it's Wednesday and the headache is still there, and now that she is looking back she also had some nausea on Sunday night and it's kind of back again.
Now I'm getting really worried. Maybe I should have been worried right away.
Of course, googling "sudden headache with exercise" brings me to some scary potential diagnoses: Subarachnoid bleed. I'd thought of stroke in the first moments but those usually don't hurt and there was no weakness or facial changes. Oh, heck. What do I really know about stroke or brain bleeds?? I'm in REI! Not helpful.
So today I insisted that she needed to call her doctor. Thank goodness he's on the ball. He ordered a CT scan and she's there right now. And freaking out a little too.
God, I hope we're just fearing the worst and she'll be fine by tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yay, the computer is back!

I have no idea why...but my computer decided to turn on again. I kept at it every day--turning the power on and off and all sorts of ways. And then...the whirring noise kept going instead of stopping. HURRAY! I've informed T and my brother that no one is to touch the "power" buttons and hopefully my home computer will have life for a long while. Or at least til after I've finished paying for my backyard re-do and have replenished my bank accounts. The next step is to get a garage sale going to and finish up the new "club house" for T. It's a slow process but it is making progress.
In the mean time, I really should do more research on what type/make of computer to get next time.
Any opinions out there? I've never used a MAC but I hear they are really nice for creating home movies (editing, etc). But maybe there is PC software now that makes it just as easy. I have no idea. But I have LOTS of home movies on tape that need to be transferred to DVD!
The guests from Holland have gone home. Boo hoo. I really liked those guys and it was so nice to get to know them--and through them, I now know more about my cousins (their mom and aunts) than I ever knew before. I have a new appreciation for a branch of my family tree that I never got the chance to know. I hope we get the chance to spend more time together--maybe the next time I visit Holland. Their last day with us, we all played tourist and went to San Francisco via BART train, rode the cable cars, walked all over Lombard Street, the Wharf, China Town, and many spots in between. T was poorly behaved for at least half the day--which embarrassed me tremendously. Maybe it was too much to ask of a 6 year old, but he seems to think he's 13 years old and has the attitude to match. I have searched Amazon and will be buying several books on raising boys and discipline--because what I've been doing isn't getting the results I need. I hope I'm not the only one with a "spirited" six year old. I guess I'm also fearful that others will see it as being a result of not having a father in the home. I have a need to show that my son is as well behaved as any other kid his age (maybe even better than most 6 year olds) just so I won't get that advice what what T really needs....
I've already gotten that kind of advice from well meaning friends--
"T really needs to get into sports."
"T needs more strict discipline."
"You're just too soft."
Or other statements that are even more direct.
"You really should start dating, so T can have a dad. He really needs one."
Match*com isn't panning out and I'm getting more anxious over it all.
One thing for sure. I do need help in understanding T's behaviour and helping to make better choices (I sound like a therapist, don't I?). Actually the language comes from exposure to the teachers at public school. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm still alive...

Oops. I didn't mean to be so long since the last post.
We went camping for a week and then school started for T...and all the stuff you have to do for that...it all takes up time.
The only real time I have to post and read other blogs is at work. It's highly discouraged and I was just reminded of that fact during the Annual Core Review that I completed today (a question specifically aimed to let you know how unLAWful it is, and against policy, etc and that one could be faced with dismissal or worse). Yikes.
My computer at home has been sick. It's expected. It's old. Apparently something in the start up/electrical connection thingy is dodgy. It used to be my habit that I turned it off completely when I was finished with it, but then I found that I sometimes couldn't get it to turn back on. And then, for no apparent reason, it would react to the fact that I pushed the "on" button and it whirred into action again. My computer guru guy said there is a part that is on the fritz and that if I get it to turn on, just keep it on. Fixing it would be cost and time prohibitive. The other option is to buy another computer. Ug. I don't need that expense right now....so the decision to keep the computer forever humming was an easy one.
But T didn't know about all this. All was fine for a few months. He never touched the "on" button because it was always on. But yesterday, the monitor was in "sleep" mode and he thought the computer was off. So, cleverly, he took his little finger and pressed the "on" button--just as I was running towards him with my heart in my throat, to wiggle the mouse so that the picture would appear....but it was too late. That little finger was much quicker than I could ever be. And now the computer is OFF. And I can't get it to turn on again....no matter what I do.
I keep thinking that this "fritz" thing will suddenly make contact again inside that box that is my computer tower and then it will make that beautiful whirring sound again. But so far... No.
So if I don't get to reading and posting while at work...then I'm out of luck. And I have SO many pictures I wanted to upload and share from our vacation.
Darn it!
I will try to be a better blogger and make myself known more often.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Staying Put

Ummm, no. I don't think I'll be moving after all.
The homes are roomier and beautiful and it really would be nice to move a little south and be nearer to some of my closest friends...but I really don't relish worrying over if I can cover the mortgage, paying for another 30 years (instead of paying off my current home in 10 or so years) and even if I could afford it monthly....the annual TAXES! Oh my. I really love working just 4 days a week--for me, but also to spend more time with my boy. And less time for my boy to be in daycare too. It was a nice reality check though. No...I'll just continue working on my backyard to create just what I dream of, maintaining my cozy little home, and stay just minutes from work and not too far from my ever-supportive parents and my bestest friend--my Mom.
Better to be happy with what I have, not fret over what I think I should have in comparison to what others appear to have accomplished (or collected).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Going to a birthday party!

Today is my best friend's youngest son's 6th birthday. Their having a Star Wars Jedi party. As expected the invitation was WAY creative and spoke of special Jedi Training that would be disguised as a birthday party but really was a way to get those Jedi's the special training they needed to defend the Earth from the evil Sith. I wish I could come up with that stuff!
My friend J is a total blast to be around anyway...and the addition of a bunch of super excited 6 year olds will make it over the top!
PLUS! The house next door to them is for sale! Of course they're asking WAY too much, but it would be a dream to buy it and live in a place with lots of same age kids on the street, EXcellent public schools, and community swim pool (with a swim team to boot!) , a park down the street and a creek side paved pathway that goes on for miles to ride bikes, jog or just enjoy the outdoors and nature! Did I mention it's right next door to my dearest, and oldest friend?
Well, it's a dream...I don't think the sellers would ever come down to my maximum offer, but....if it's meant to be mine....who knows?
I'm just going to look at it.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I want a Dad...

Yesterday, while driving home from day care, T says:
Mama, do we have a dad in our family? (Which he knows we don't because we've talked about this before...)
Me: No, we don't have a dad, but you have a donor-dad.
T: Well, I want a dad that lives with us. Can Uncle R be my dad then?
Me: He isn't really your dad, but you can pretend if you want. (Not, not, not the role model I'd pick out though!)
T: But how can we get a dad that lives with us?
Me: Well, I'll work on it T.
T: What about that man we see on the corner all the time (a homeless man with matted hair/beard, coated with 5-10 years of dirt and weather, thread-bare clothes, barely there duct taped shoes and seriously mentally ill)
Me: Um. No. That man is very sick and he doesn't like to talk to people. He wouldn't make a good dad.
T: We can just ask at the houses here (as he points out to the neighborhood we are driving through). We'll just ask if they have a mom and if they don't they can be my dad.

(It took me a while to figure out his point of view--if a man doesn't have a mom, then I can be the mom and then that man can be the dad in our little family).

Me: Everyone has a mom, T. When you are born, that's your mom that gave birth to you. You gotta ask if a man is single or married. Then, maybe he might want to be married to me and then he can be your dad. (Trying to keep it simple!)
T: Oh. (pensive moment) OK. I'll ask if they're single or married.

Yikes. Now, I've done it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Catching my breath

Wow, I feel like I'm still digging out from the piles of "stuff" that goes on while I was away on vacation. I didn't have access to a computer so I just let that pile up too. I haven't even seen any of the pictures. But don't have high hopes. My camera was acting up. I'll post when I get to it. I went to Kauai with my 13 year old niece M (my sister's youngest child). Kauai is SUCH a nice place! The first day was just traveling and getting our selves situated in the resort (Grand Hyatt is NICE in Poipu). The next day we went horseback riding for 3 hours and then had lunch and swam in a waterfall fed natural pond. It was SO cool! Then we found some good beaches for snorkeling. After that we drove down back the coast in our Red Mustang convertible car to our posh resort to have a nice dinner at a recommended restaurant. As we were ordering, I looked up to see M with tears in her eyes in obvious distress. Shocked, I asked, "What's wrong??" She said nothing and just shook her head. Finally said, "I miss my mom." I was floored and flabbergasted. I felt the day was near perfect and after the FIRST day she wants her MOM! What was I going to do with the next 5 days (some of which didn't have much penciled in besides just sight seeing and making it up as we go along)? I tried to reassure her and told her she could call her mom (since that damned cell phone was attached to her hand, it wouldn't be too hard to do!) and maybe feel better. After she ordered her dinner, ate about half of it, she asked to leave and go back to the room--again in tears (we were still on the resort). I let her go, but I felt like someone had socked me in the stomach and abandoned me. I know, I know. It's not all about me....but I was at a loss of how to fix this so that the rest of the week would go well. When I arrived back at our room she was still in tears talking to her mom on the phone. The next day, I called my sister and asked what was going on. We were both surprised she was homesick since she seemed so ready emotionally and excited about the trip. I didn't want to rock anything, so the next day we just hung out at the pool side and lounged around all day. At the end of the day we had a lovely massage at the resorts spa center. It was NICE, but EXPENSIVE!!! OMG. $200 each for a 50 minute massage??! I had sticker shock chest pangs at least once a day while on Kauai. I knew it was going to cost a bit and I was ready for that, but now that I was dealing with a girl that hardly spoke to me, slept in the car when possible and kept asking when we could go back to the hotel....I wasn't in the mood to splurge. I ended up canceling the helicopter ride...$400 I didn't want to part with. At the end of everyday, I spoke with T and he was so cool about my being gone. He stayed with my parents and told me all about his adventures day by day. But by the end of the week he said, "I'm tired of being here. Can we go home now?" He's made it clear that he wants to go to Hawaii next year with me. Hands down-I'm ready for that! I spent my entire birthday (pretty much) traveling back home. And no one gave me a birthday freebie. And I asked, more than a few times, with undaunted hope that someone would take pity or help me celebrate just a little. Not even a water--which cost a whopping $2 for 12 oz. Do I sound cheap and bitter? I'm not...not really. I think. Besides, birthdays at my age don't really count anymore. Never mind how old I really am...I lie so often I've sort of forgotten.
I got back really late and T was already asleep. I snuggled up next to him (we sleep in a Queen sized bed when at my parent's place) and in the morning he said, "Mama! You're home! Yay!!" And big hugs and kisses. Every day since he's said to me "I'm so happy you're home. I love you more than infinity." And his smile is SO cute with that missing front tooth. Man, I wished I could have taken him to Kauai with me. Would have been more fun...for me. But it would have changed the focus away from the activities we could have done with M. Actually, M's recollection was pretty nice. My experience and hers are WAY different. Good thing. I overheard her talk to her mom and friends and she went on and on about the boat ride, the dolphins, swimming with turtles, the hotel, the plane...etc. Excellent. I'm really glad she had a great time. That's what I was hoping for. But I kinda wanted to feel like she liked me too, and acted a little happy that it was ME that was there with her. Oh well. 13 years old. I can remember being in Europe at 13 and not interested AT ALL in anything except dreaming about what my sister and I were going to be for Halloween that year. I'm sure we frustrated my parents too.
Also, on July 1 my brother moved in with me, as you all know. It's not disastrous but not my own private happy home either. Now, I've got clutter and boxes and less space than I used to have to put it all in. I'm planning on a garage sale in a couple weeks. I needed to do it anyway...lots of baby stuff to sell, but now it's really necessary with all my brother's things around. My thought is that he can stay 6 months to a year and then move on. We are not really compatible, but I'm finding he's an excellent cook. So that's one positive. And he payed me the rent (3 weeks late, but at least I have it). He has been unemployed for over a year and I don't see him looking for work yet. Those unemployment checks don't go on forever, do they? So I've got to help him create a resume and get his butt out the door to find work. Any work. For goodness sakes. Plus the last couple of employees won't we giving him a letter of recommendation--left on bad terms. It's going to be tough, but still doable. I've got to hand down the law and make sure he knows what I'm thinking for expectations. Some of the things he's said make me believe he thinks this is a long term arrangement. NOT! Like I needed more to deal with. See why I feel like there's a big weight on my shoulders? And not the kind where if I did a few squats my bum would start to improve. And that's another thing....Plus, not much going on with Match.com. Lots to sift through, no dates yet. And I'm not giving the time I should to write back some of the blokes who've written.
I hope you all are living happy uncomplicated lives. Let me know, so I can live vicariously.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another little milestone

It's been dangling in the middle of T's smile for more than a week. His right front tooth. It's all he has been doing...wiggling and touching and moving it backward and forward. Trying to freak me out with, "Look now Mama!" as he bends it at a 90 degree angle.

Then yesterday afternoon, I asked him if he wanted some help. He had seemed sort of irritated for the past two days and I just couldn't figure out why he was behaving so badly. Kinda like he was over-tired and couldn't tolerate much. A lot of whining. I'd given my offer of help before but he always said, "No thanks." But this time he said OK.

So I took a piece of dental floss and tied it around the tooth. I was pretty scared that it might be better attached than it appeared and when I yanked, it would cause a lot of pain and be a bloody mess---with tears and drama all over the place. We took a picture before the "procedure".....

Then we both wrapped our fingers around the string and yanked together. To both our delight, the tooth came out easily and there wasn't even a drop of blood. T said "Wow, it didn't hurt a bit!" Then, of course, more pictures of his brand new style of smile...

What a doll! I thought I couldn't love that smile any more than I did, but it just got waaaay cuter!

Immediately the cloud that he'd been carrying around disappeared and he was such a happy boy! Maybe that tooth was getting the best of him. And then, there was the tooth fairy's visit to look forward to! He's been really excited about collecting and having lots of money. (Good boy T!) He LOVES to add more in his Piggy Bank (a can with Winne the Pooh printed on it with a slot at the top). I almost thought it wouldn't be fun to use that bank since once it goes in, you can't see it any more. And there's no way to open it. You have to use a can opener to get it open and eventually see what you've collected. But he loves it.

The tooth fairy came just as he'd hoped and she was so impressed with the awesome way he's taken care of it that she gave him a paper dollar bill AND a GOLD COIN dollar with a picture of Hiawatha on it. Plus, his Oma gave him a dollar for his bravery in yanking the took out in the first place. He was very happy to stare at it for a while and then....in it went, into the Pooh bank.

I'm sooo glad it came out before I left on my trip. It's bad enough to leave without him, but it I'd have missed that milestone, I would have had even more heart ache.

Tuesday, I leave for my week long adventure with my 13 year old niece to Kaua'i. It's gonna be a blast.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


T just loves having R around the house. He mimics him a lot. R says he has a head ache and wants to lay down for a while.....10 minutes later, T says with a sigh, "I have a ed-egg. I'm going to lay down." (Which lasts for about 3 minutes.) R opens a can of coke (just before dinner) and T wants a can too. Of course I told him no--we don't drink soda much and especially not before dinner. Now, T wants to sleep in as long as possible in the morning (he tries but just can't manage it), just like uncle R. I think it's cute, but because I know the influence my brother is and will have on T, I am wary of how my brother behaves and what it will teach T. Nothing good so far.
Which brings me to the sick feeling I've developed in my stomach.
I was very clear with my brother with my initial offering to stay at my home: No drinking or drugs. I know it was a big deal for him. After all, it's quite normal for him to drink beer daily--excessively on weekends, and smoke pot nearly if not every day. I don't drink alcohol but can understand the attraction to having some at social gatherings. But I DON'T condone smoking pot or use of any other recreational drugs. ESPECIALLY when it happens in my own home as I raise my 6 year old boy. And that's what happened.
I came home at the usual time, plunked down my things and looked for R. He loves to BBQ, so I figured he was fixing something for dinner. (He hasn't looked for a job at all since he moved in over a week ago, so I knew he was languishing around the house somewhere. I opened up the back door and there he was, caught in the act of inhaling. Deeply. I was speechless and just stared at him. I told him I was very clear with him on this point and it was unacceptable. T wasn't home--he was at Tae Kwon Do with my mom, thank goodness. I had such a sick feeling in my stomach. Now R was totally moved in and quite comfortable in his new digs and I'm living a nightmare in the making. After a bit, I found my voice and told him again of our agreement. I don't want to have to keep sneaking around to see if I can catch him in the act again--violating the rules. I told him that if he cannot abide by my wishes, he has to be honest with me, and he must find another place to live. I know he has very few choices. I'm pretty sure, had he had any choices, my home wouldn't have made the top 5 on that list. But here he is, due to a string of bad choices he's made. In my view, to get out of this hole he's dug for himself: job one is get off the pot, stop drinking and find a F***king job. That should help work on the self esteem--which obviously is suffering. Then lose some weight (he's about 60-70 lbs overweight), get a reliable car that you might be able to take a girl on a date with. And then find a date. Just DO SOMETHING. Sheesh. And while you're at it, GROW UP and get comfortable with the fact that you're a 40-something year old man, not a teenager anymore. I think the marijuana-bathed brain has not allowed him to realize what's happened to him in the last 25 years.
How do I get all this across to him without sounding like his mother? I wanted to keep our relationship on as even a level as possible, but he sure is making it hard. I'm the oldest in our family, so I tend to be the over achiever and a little on the bossy side. But I have a choice here. And I chose to live without anyone under the influence of drugs and alcohol. It's my house and my rules.
I wonder what's going to happen next.
What a mistake I made. I hope he proves me wrong.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A little snippy

I'm getting a little snippy over this situation with my brother having moved in. I live in a small house, with stuff I've collected over the last 14 or so years....it was feeling just right for me and T. Actually just a little tight, but liveable. But with all this extra STUFF around plus all mine....it's just too much.
I thought I was dealing well with the changes...

Keeping our voices down in the morning so R can continue to sleep in
Shifting my things around to accomodate R's stuff
Working out who is going to pay for food, clean the house, make dinners
And generally getting used to someone else having a vote on what we watch on TV, etc. His taste is NOT mine--drag racing and deep sea fishing, not my cuppa tea.

But when he started shifting things around in his room and removing the torch lamp into my room (that I have no real need for or space for but lived happily in the corner of my former extra bedroom) and the Globe that sat on the dresser and the book shelf with all T's books and toys--that I said will be moved into the "Club House" in the backyard (once it's finished), it felt a little too much to deal with. Add to that the fact that I have not yet had any payment (it was due July 1st) and I feel like I've make too many concessions without any given on his part.
I later apologized for my snippy-ness and reminded him that this is a huge adjustment for me and he's just going to have to remember that when he thinks it's OK to initiate any changes in my house.
I hope I don't soon regret this decision to help him out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cozy just got cozy-er

On July 1st my brother moved in with us. He had been renting a room from a friend of his with his on-again-off-again wife and their son, but it had been contentious with the wife and had gotten to the point where it was best he leave. It had been decided he'd leave last Christmas and originally he was going to move back in with our parents. But that was a bad idea from the start. Dad and my brother are so alike (and neither will admit that) that they do NOT get along. And then the Christmas blow out happened and that was that. The blow out between dad and my brother would have happened sooner or later, anyway. My brother (I'll call him R) tried to make things OK between his renter and wife, but it didn't last more than a few months and again he was looking for another room to rent. At Christmas, seeing the futility of the arrangement to go back home, I'd offered my extra room for him. The #1 rule, though, was NO drinking or drugs. He is a regular beer drinker and pot smoker---not acceptable in my house, and something he should give up if he has any hope of getting his health back and his life in order. And as a result of his depressing life situation, he's gained a LOT of weight. So dropping those bad habits will help him get back to a healthy state. At least that's MY plan!
So far, it's been pretty easy. He stays out of our way and is, by nature, a very neat and orderly person. But the STUFF he came with is more than I'd imagined. So many boxes of crap (in my opinion) for a guy that lives in one room. He admits it's more than he wants and has said he'll go through it and throw out what he doesn't want/need.
So now I've got a torn up back yard, a tarp down to keep the dust and dirt down with tons of boxes and junk stacked on top. Very attractive. And more than I can deal with. It makes me feel uneasy. I like organization and minimal clutter.
I have put out a message to a couple of friends with small boys to come over and help themselves to all the boxes of clothes and toys in my garage. I have to make room in there. My car is finding itself with less and less room around the perimeter of its usual parking spot.
T LOVES having R here. He likes having a guy around, I think. R hasn't really played with T yet, but R is a great fisherman and T will likely be going fishing with him. That would be nice. And T asked me if Uncle R could come and watch him at Tae Kwon Do so he could "pretend" to be his dad. I could think of quite a few others that would be better role models, but I didn't want to douse his dream. So I just kept it neutral with a "We'll see how things go....."
Now, I have to find the happy medium between being the older sister with lots of advice to hand down (and I've held my tongue on more than a few occasions--trying to remember he didn't ask for advice!) and being more business-like the renter/rentee interaction.
He hasn't payed his dues this month yet, and I asked him what day he'd like to make as "rent due". He said, "whatever you say." So I said, "OK, then the first of the month." And being the 6th today--I'm still wondering where the check is. I"m only charging $400. He used to pay $600/month. I wanted to charge enough to cover the extra expenses his living here will incur, but also make it easier to deal with the loss of privacy and space that I have to accept. I've been living alone for the past 14 years and it's a big adjustment for me. It's my intention to (secretly) put all his rent into a separate account, use the funds when needed but save the majority for him so that when he leaves he'll have a nest-egg to spend on his new place--or a newer car, whatever he'll need to get that leg-up I'm hoping he'll get while staying here. I will I have to be more bold but it's hard to ask for money when I know he has so little of it. (He's been unemployed for more than 1 year--getting unemployment money all this time.) Again, lots more advice I could hand down--and probably will sooner or later.
We'll see how this goes. I see it as a stepping stone to getting R to a place where he has more choices. My plan is that he stays here 6 months to a year and then moves on to his own place--not another room off some friend. For gosh sakes, a man of 42 years old ought to have some place of his own by then, doncha think?

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Last Thursday started out like most mornings....I got to watch a snippet of the Today show before the TV channel would be changed to cartoons. And in that few moments of news a story about Dr. Jerri Nielsen popped up--the woman who found, biopsied herself and diagnosed her own very aggressive breast cancer in 1999 while being stuck at the Antarctica station. Months later she was rescued and successfully beat back her cancer...until last year where is was found to be, well, everywhere. She died on June 23 at the age of 57. After her inital cure she wrote a book and toured the country giving talks of her experiences and perspective on life. One quote really struck me. She said, "It doesn't matter how of when you die. We're all gonna do it. What's really important is: Did you every really live?"

Wow. I found this to be very profound. I told everyone at work. It really got me thinking about my own life. Was I doing everything I could do, or needed to do--to live fully? What more could I do? How can I make a positive impression on the world, that survives me and lives on? So, with all this running around in my head....

I hear Farrah Fawcett dies. And then, seemingly out of the blue, Michael Jackson. Two people that were pretty popular for most of my life. And I started to think about their lives and legacies. I admit, I puddled up quite a bit listening to Michael's music on the radio. Like someone said recently, "His music was the sound track of my life." At least for a few decades it was. Farrah and Michael certainly made an impression on the public and changed lives in some manner or another. I thought they were both a bit peculiar, but they were also brave in putting themselves out there and taking risks to express themselves and also help humanity. Farrah with her choices of dramatic acting roles (I will never forget The Burning Bed) and recently with her documentary on her cancer diagnosis and the road it took her on to the elusive cure that wasn't possible. And Michael with his unique music, style, dancing and humanitarian efforts to help hungry children and heal hearts after 911.

Well, OK. I'll amend that "peculiar" word to down right "weird" at times. Who knows why, but I guess that's part of Hollywood's elite. Maybe weirdness comes with unusual artistic talent.

But I've digressed. (I never really talk this way in real life...don't know why I use it when I write but it seems to fit.)

This week's events have really spurred me to look at myself and try to figure out if there's anything more I can do, that is true to myself, in helping make a positive, lasting imprint after I'm gone. I keep thinking about the song, "Man in the Mirror". And then I hear the song "Gone too soon" and I feel a sense of pressure. Where to start? What to do? I know that what I do for a living is pretty awesome--helping those with arms that ache to hold their own child. Creating families for those that desperately dream of being parents. I was there. I sure know what that feels like. But, I still feel like I could do more.

Now, if I could just get to the point where I would feel less guilt for thoughts on wanting to be more than just a mom. Is this just a 'single mom' thing or do all mothers feel this way to some degree? Is it selfish to want something more? Maybe, I should concentrate solely on raising my child first. Childhood is so fleeting and has SUCH an impact for the rest of a person's life. Plus, to do anything solely for myself makes my chest ache, especially if it takes away from time I would/could spent with T. But still--to be a person that not only he can be proud of, but that I can also be proud of--that's what I wish for.
I think introspection is always good. I'm going to think about this for a while--and we'll see where it brings me and what more I might come up with.