Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quick Catch Up

Things have been pretty crazy around here lately.

Mostly at work.

We had a huge organizational announcement a couple of weeks ago, that has me busting my tail every day for probably the next month or so.

Basically the division I belong to is dissolving, but they're starting a new division, which will consist of the members of my division, plus the members of several groups of another division within the company.

We're more than doubling in size, the entire thing is a huge re-org, and... my job is to facilitate all of the administrative functions to get the new division up & running.

Everything from the complicated:
    - shared drive (merging the electronic files of all parties into a new drive without screwing things up too badly)
    - budget (coordinating the very first budget of the new division with managers who mostly have never done budgeting before and an Accounting group who had never added a new division before)
    - website (deciding content, branding, design, etc and creating the new website for the new division)

To the fairly simple, but still needs to be done, and still takes some coordination:
    - division calendar (our new VP wants a very specific format, and getting the dates that all interested parties think are important)
    - mail codes (new mail codes for everyone had to be coordinated w/ HR & the MailRoom)
    - updated company phonebook (involved coordination with Information Systems and multiple administrative assistants)
    - group email addresses (determining appropriate groups, gaining upper mgmt approval, then working with Information Systems to establish)

Plus being the overall contact for anything & everything administratively related to this change, trying to continue my basic job functions, and being annoyed to death by a General Manager (whole 'nother story).

And just to add some emotional stress to the top of the busyness, let's throw in that about half the people involved in this move are not happy about it and are making it known, some of them loudly. Some of them management. Some of them calling me repeatedly to complain about everything from the shared drive to the mail codes to having to order new business cards.

Plus the fact that I was explicitly told that I am "temporarily" handling these functions, and even though my role has been division-wide support for the past seven years, and I know for a fact no one else in the new division has the experience in these functions that I do, basically they haven't decided what my job function will be once the dust settles. In other words, while I'm temporarily busy with items with which I'm familiar, essentially I don't know what my job is anymore.

Cue anxiety attack.

Especially when you consider that all signs are pointing to the fact that upper management is apparently considering sending me off to one of the other groups. In another building. To report to the manager that has probably been the most vocal about being ticked off about this change, and who, the last time I was over there, I was told I should probably hide from.

Pardon me while I vomit.

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In other news Chief is progressing nicely in his housebreaking. It's more work than I anticipated, but I think he's doing pretty well (although I admit I have no frame of reference at all).

Probably the biggest problem we have right now is him nipping at FireGirl while playing. And she just is not understanding that swatting at him, yelling in a high-pitched voice, then running down the hall - well, it's essentially puppy language for "hey, that was fun, do it again"

It's a communication problem.

Of course, if FireMan or I yell "no" in a deep, stern voice, Chief is quick to quit (he really is a good pup), but we need to get her to give him commands in a way he understands. We need to express to him that in the pack order, she is above him, and right now he treats her more like another puppy, like an equal. If we don't nip it in the bud very soon (no pun intended), then it won't be long before he's trying to dominate her.

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We had FireGirl's very first parent-teacher conference. The teacher said she's very smart, and likes math very much. She's starting to warm up socially and has a few friends she plays with. That's the short version.

We really like her teacher, and if we stay there she'll be in the same class from now thru kindergarten.

And the more I learn about and see montessori education first-hand, the more I like the concept, especially for younger children.

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I suppose that's all for now. Pretty much what's going on in our lives.

I'll try to find time to get on here & write, but I know the next few weeks are going to be crazy, so no promises. But I'll be back eventually. That I can promise.

Till next time, thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It probably comes off looking like pride...

... but I swear it's not.

I don't want to apologize anymore. To anyone.

It's not that I think I'm right all the time. Far from it.

It's that I'm tired of always being the one to say I'm sorry.

It just seems like lately - and by lately, I mean for the last few years - it seems like whether I am completely at fault, equally at fault, or a tiny bit at fault, it seems like I am always the one who apologizes, the one who takes the first step, the one who bends first, the one who takes the first effort to makes amends.

Am I talking about my marriage? Yes. I'm also talking about family relationships, friends, even work relationships.

And I'm tired of it.

Yes, I admit that sometimes I'm wrong. And I usually have no problem admitting when I'm wrong. And even if I'm only partially at fault - and let's face it, in most disputes both parties are usually partially at fault in some way - I'm usually willing to accept responsibility for where I have gone wrong, apologize, and try to heal the relationship.

It's just that... well, sometimes the other party has to be the one to say I'm sorry.

Let's face it. Statistically, it's an impossibility that everything is actually my fault.

But for me to be the one that always apologizes first, always takes the initial step to fix the problem in the relationship... well it leaves the impression that I am wholly to blame, and they get off scott free, never having to say "sorry", never having to adjust their behavior, never having to change anything.

So this time... I don't wanna say it. I wanna hear it. And I want it to be sincere.

And yes, I am accepting partial responsibility for the issue at hand. Partial. But I don't wanna say I'm sorry. Not because I don't think I'm at fault, not because I don't wanna accept responsibility, but just because I'm tired of it.

For once, I want the other party to take the first step, to meet me halfway and to get there first, to make the first gesture that they want to repair the relationship.

Maybe it sounds silly. Maybe it sounds prideful. At this point, I don't really care.

It's partially my own fault. I think sometimes I'm too quick to make amends, too quick to try to make nice. Sometimes, believe it or not, I can be a doormat. I don't mean to be. I just like to be nice to people. And I want people to be happy. But sometimes in efforts to make people happy, it seems like I get lost.

And I'm tired of it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Meet the New Fire Chief


Yep, we've added to our FireFamily. Meet Chief.

He's an 8 week old shepherd mix we adopted from a local rescue last weekend.

We've been thinking about it for a while. I've wanted another guardian dog to help Buddy (old & blind [Tootsie] and little [Flopsy] are no help) for a while now, plus both Tootsie and Buddy are nearing the end of their lifespan.

Tootsie is on year 12 of a 10-13 year lifespan, plus us heartworm positive.

Buddy we're estimating to be around 11 years old, and should have a 12-14 yr lifespan.

And, personally, I'd rather add a new pup now, then lose one, then lose a dog then have it be like we're trying to "replace" the old one. Does that make sense?

We (okay, mostly me, but I'm a little anxious like that) spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of dog would best fit in our family. And I mean, a lot of time.

Shepherd of some sort was a must. And a guardian-type shepherd (ie. Anatolian, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherd, etc) not a herding type shepherd (ie border collie, cattle dog, etc). Mix was okay, but absolutely no hunting breeds, due to the strong prey drives.

And a lot of other factors. Large size. Longer fur. Puppy. Blah, blah, blah.

We'd been looking for about a month, and decided to stop by this rescue on the way to my parents' house. And there he was.

And he's perfect.

He's living in the house while he's a baby, partially because, well, it's winter and it's cold, but also to properly housetrain him, acclimate him to the cat (ie. no eating cats), acclimate him to playing with a little girl (ie. no knocking over little girls) and basically just learning how to behave.

We've only had him a few days, but so far things are going very well. Buddy has been the slowest to accept the newcomer, but considering he's a guardian dog, it's to be expected. He's been insistent on asserting his alpha status around Chief, which I suppose is normal, but I didn't expect him to do so while the puppy was this young.

What can I say? I've never had a puppy before. Heck, these dogs are my first dogs, and they were Jason's.

So Chief spends some time outside every day not only for potty breaks, but we also make sure he gets "play time" with the other dogs. Which basically means he plays while they watch him & occasionally give him a good sniff.

When he gets older he'll gradually spend more & more time outside, until he's outside full-time with the other dogs.

Ideally I'd like to eventually have all working guardian dogs, especially if we continue to expand our "flock" as we'd like.

Which reminds me... need to introduce him to the chickens soon (ie. don't eat the chickens).

Anyway, he's very smart, already responding to his name, to "come", "go to bed", "go to your room", and "out".
He's doing fabulously in his potty-training.

Okay, this is my opinion, anyway. And as I stated above, I have absolutely no frame of reference, but... for being so young, and only working on it for a few days... I think he's doing great!

He's brave, seriously - not afraid of anything - which is a little annoying in a puppy, but will be great in a guardian dog.
Very laid back, relaxed. Plays, but isn't crazy hyper or difficult to handle or anything.
Quiet - I hadn't heard him bark at all until last night.

Honestly, in a lot of ways he reminds me of Buddy. Which just tickles me to pieces. I suppose only time will tell, but I even think he looks a lot like a miniature black Buddy.

So there you are. The newest member of this FireFamily. The Chief.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Have you seen my confidence ??

I can't find it.

As I've been reflecting on years past, in some cases many years past, I can't help but taking note in the difference between my confidence levels then and now.

I used to be so confident in myself. Oh sure, there were moments I doubted myself, certain things I was self-conscious of, but overall? Wow, was I confident.

Now? Not so much.

It's more the other way around. There are moments I feel certain, things I am decisive about, but overall? I am unsure, cautious.

I know when it started. It didn't happen all at once, but was more of a downward spiral. One thing happened, then another, then another... and my confidence was dashed to bits.

Even looking back on it, with many years of objectivity between myself and those events, I think even the most self-assured person would have wavered. Not perhaps as much as I did, but it would have been hard to be unaffected.

And yes, some of that boldness came from lack of maturity. You see, from experience I see how foolish I was to be convinced of successes that would never transpire, I see how naive I was to expect outcomes that were unlikely to occur.

But... oh, how fun was that ride! To attempt things without fear of failure, to go for things I had no business going for, to actually believe I had what it takes.

Thing is, it's a ride I want to be on. Now, can someone tell me where the line is forming? Because I can't seem to find my way back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm blaming sleep deprivation

My emotions have been on a roller coaster lately.

I have about 10 blog posts rolling around in my head that I need to get written down, most of those regarding my mental / emotional health (past & present).

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my recurring cough, and this year I've been fighting it for going on... seven weeks? After not being able to sleep in my own bed for about a week straight, I finally gave in and saw a doctor.

They couldn't find anything wrong, big surprise, but were concerned by how long this has gone on so... she's referring me to a pulmonologist, and prescribed me some antibiotics & steroids in the meantime.

I can't get in to see the pulmonologist until February, but the receptionist said that even if my coughing had stopped by then, it wouldn't prevent him from doing a workup and me finally getting a diagnosis, so... I'm good with waiting.

And after finishing the meds, I've managed to sleep 2 of the past 7 nights in my own bed. Not consecutively, but still. So, some improvement anyway.

So... the point of all that is... sleep deprivation.

I'm tired. Very tired.

And not always thinking clearly. And emotional. And not as productive as I maybe could be and definitely need to be.

But I'm very tired.

I'm convinced that if I could just get two, maybe even just one, night of really good, completely uninterrupted sleep - the kind where you can sleep until your body wakes up, not until you get woken up - that would really, really help.

Unfortunately I just don't see that happening any time in the near future.

Someone go take a nap for me, 'kay?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Soon Enough

I feel like I've been saying this a lot lately.

To FireGirl, who can't wait to be all grown up (already!), when she asks to do something, and I assure her that she will be able to, soon enough.

To a few people, whose current struggles are so familiar to me, when I assure them that this too shall pass, soon enough.

To myself and FireMan, as we pay off debt, as I try to remind us that we will get there, soon enough.

And yes, to myself, when I look at so many things I want to do, then remember the importance of balance, and keep in mind that it will come, soon enough.

It's such a funny phrase: soon enough.

A contradiction of sorts, but containing all kinds of truth.

The words themselves contain both eager anticipation for what is to come, with contentment with where you are now.

Soon enough

In many ways, it's profound.

Soon = before long; in the near future
Enough = adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or desire

Wow.

It will happen before long, sufficient for the purpose, adequate for the need.

Soon enough.

I think it's something we all struggle with at times, realizing that our timing is not God's timing is not life's timing. Realizing that just because we want something now, doesn't mean that having it now is sufficient for the purpose. Realizing that sometimes it is in waiting that we discover what truly is adequate for our need.

Soon enough.

Such a small, simple phrase yet so big in meaning.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not Just Another Blog Challenge #18 - Oldest Clothes in My Closet



I procrastinated on this post for so long because I was determined to include a picture. I've taken several, but they always look so... unflattering. Yuck!

The oldest items in my closet that I still wear are...

a pear of navy blue Eeyore sweatpants (circa 1998-ish)

a gray long-sleeved trumpetline t-shirt, from my days in the college band (circa 1999)

The sweats are still incredibly comfortable, have a couple of small holes, but otherwise have held up incredibly well, especially considering how often I wore them while in college, and that I still wear them now.

Although now I only wear them to lounge around the house, and sometimes to bed.

The shirt is in almost-new condition, also an incredible feat considering its wear. I don't wear it as often as I used to, but for years this was a staple in my wardrobe, as once I graduated from university I still used this long-sleeved tee to layer under short sleeved t-shirts in cooler weather.

So there you have it. My oldest clothes that I still wear. And the last of my blog challenge posts. Hope you've enjoyed them and hope you write a few of your own!

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

If you visit my house...

A few things to keep in mind should you ever choose to visit my house:

There's a good chance my house will not be neat & tidy.
If you choose to come over unannounced, there's a really good chance it won't be neat & tidy.

There will probably be dirty dishes in the sink.
If you choose to come over unannounced, there will probably be dirty dishes on the counter next to the sink.

We don't have curtains on our windows. Any of them. Or blinds. So walk around naked at your own risk.
Wait, if you're there, you're probably there to visit us. So, maybe don't walk around naked at all, 'kay?

We maintain an open-door policy at our house. So if you don't want a preschooler walking in on you while you pee, you should probably lock the bathroom door.

We have three outdoor dogs. They will greet you as you pull up. If you don't want this to happen, you should let us know ahead of time so we can tie them up temporarily make arrangements.

Oh, and Tootsie is losing her vision. And her hearing. So... just watch what you're doing and don't hit our dog, 'kay?

We have one indoor cat. He has long hair. If you're allergic, take your meds before you come. His hair is everywhere.

If a door is closed, don't open it. Since we do maintain an open-door policy, if a door is closed, there's a huge mess in that room reason.

We don't have cable, and only get spotty reception on the 3 local channels we get. Also known as, don't expect to watch the big game at our house.

As a rule, we don't keep pop (ie. soda) in the house. You are however welcome to whatever fruit juice, milk, or in rare occasions sweet tea, we do have. And also, unlimited water. You're welcome.

We don't keep much snack food around either. But we can usually offer you some baby carrots, whatever fruit selection we have that week, and if you're lucky, a granola bar. And ice cream. We do like ice cream, so we should be well stocked in that.

Although if I'm expecting you, I have been known to stock up on snacks & drinks. Because I do try to be a good hostess like that. Emphasize the word "try".

Oh, and going back to the drinks thing, we usually have water for dinner, and it doesn't always occur to us that someone might want something other than water, so if you're coming over for dinner, and you want something other than water, you should probably just bring it, or let us know ahead of time. Otherwise you will be disappointed. (this one from experience)

The chances of Jena being there are about 99.9%. So if you're expecting to drop by for some adult time, it's not gonna happen. And if you want my undivided attention for any reason, that's probably not gonna happen either. Not until she gets a lot older anyway.

We live in the country. If you need to drive thru our yard to get out of the driveway, go for it. You won't upset us. Go for it.

We live in the country. It will feel like an eternity on your way out here, but it's really not that far. We're four miles from the nearest town, about 10 from several major highways, and about seven from a major shopping area. It's really not that far. I promise.

All of that being said, you should also know that you will be welcomed. We may even greet you with open arms. We will be glad you are there, and you will be loved.

Jena may even put on a performance for you, and Tucker might get brave enough to purr in your ear.

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this post inspired by this post

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas with my Family

My sister and her family ended up not being able to come into town in December at all, so our Christmas season extended into the first week of January!

It was so very, very nice. Their oldest two have grown so much, both out of the house, so it's actually the first time our ENTIRE family has been together in three years! The last time I saw my nephew I was pregnant!

I can't tell you how blessed I felt just to see everyone again. And to see & hear how well everyone is doing.

My nephew is working and going to school, my eldest niece just got accepted into a private college where she plans to double-major, and just got straight As last quarter in high school, while working her first part-time job, and my youngest niece was the star in her junior high school play!

I've known these kids since my sister was their babysitter, before she even started dating their dad. My nephew was just 10 yrs old, and the youngest was only one! I've been their aunt since before I was officially their aunt. But who needs "official" to be family anyway?

I love these kids. I've watched them go thru so much. They've had a rough time of it thru the years. Maybe some time I'll tell you more of their story. Maybe. But they're such good, good kids. And it does my heart so good to see them doing well.

{{ happy sigh }}

Okay, enough of the sentimental rambling. Here are the Christmas pics. Enjoy!

my nephew (the oldest)

youngest niece on the left
FireGirl reading helping hand out presents

I like this pic. Nobody's cheesin' it, but everybody just looks happy.

My mom & her mom

my oldest niece


Friday, January 13, 2012

Dear People-Who-Bought-Our-Old-House:

I feel really bad about the way we left the house. And I know you were pretty ticked about it. And I don't think you believed my husband when he explained why. And I've felt bad about it for over a year.

So this post is inspired by my need to apologize to you and explain what happened, and since I can't really tell YOU, I'm sending it into the world.

I feel horrible about leaving trash in the house, food in the fridge (which I also sorta regret, because I lost some really nice storage containers), filthy floors, a broken TV in the living room, and much more.

We know it looked awful.

We had planned on moving everything out, cleaning the entire house, and being out in plenty of time for you to move in.

But you see, we closed on our new house the same day, and had nowhere to move our stuff. So, in the weeks leading up to closing on the old house (both houses really), when our realtor assured us that he had a verbal agreement from you thru your realtor that we would have 10 days after the closing to move, we were relieved.

And that's what we planned on. In fact, we planned on being out in 7, giving us a little cushion room, and ensuring that you would have an empty, clean house to move into.

Up until we were actually signing, and the written agreement said we had to be out that day, our realtor still insisted that he had a verbal agreement that we had 10 days, and to not worry about it.

So when we were moving items the evening of the closing, just to get started, and you showed up and then called your realtor to show up, and the three of you glared at us while watching us move for over an hour that night, completely ticked off that we were still there... we had no idea.

And my husband came to talk to you, and you were clearly ticked off, and your realtor said there was no such agreement, and you wanted us out by 6pm... well, in that moment I was ticked at you. "We had an agreement", I thought.

But in the week or so after that I realized that this was just another reason we don't recommend our realtor to anyone, why I stopped talking to him partway thru the process & made FireMan handle everything.

And so that night we called in reinforcements w/ pickup trucks, and busted our butts to get out ASAP. You finally drove away, but we, and our army of family & friend, worked until 2am. And I mean worked. Hard and fast.

And at 2am, we looked around, and said... done.

The place was filthy, we had no time to clean. Our TV got busted in the loading process, we didn't have time to dispose of it, so we left it on the floor.

A day or so later I realized I left all the food in the fridge. In the rush to move it didn't even occur to me to open it & look.

I'm actually quite certain we probably forgot some other items, tucked away somewhere.

Three days later we tried to sneak back to retrieve a rock from our landscaping, one that FireMan had brought to me on one of our first dives together, one he found at the bottom of a quarry and thought was pretty. You saw us, and glared. I grabbed the rock & ran back to the car.

I'm sorry. I really am sorry that we weren't out when you wanted us to, I'm sorry that we left the house in that condition. That was never our plan.

And I know back then you didn't believe us when we told you our realtor had told us you agreed to a later move date, but it's the truth.

And so this is my apology. Take it or leave it as you like, but I refuse to feel bad anymore.

Oh, and I hope the house is working out well for you. It's a good house, it really is.

God bless,
    FireWife

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Snow

It really wasn't that much. This is it. But she was thrilled.

The best part was (apparently), picking up handfuls of snow (and grass, and mud) and throwing (ie wiping) them on Mommy

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If we're gonna be friends...

... you should probably know a few things about me upfront. I'd hate for you to be surprised later, and then have to break off our friendship, and then we're all upset about it and stuff.

So, here, in no particular order, are some things about me that you may (or may not) find to be a dealbreaker:

- I'm a Christian. I believe Christ is the only way to Heaven.

- I have a husband and a kid. They are my earthly priority, and as much as I'd like to spend loads of time with you and give you my undivided attention when they're around, that's probably not gonna happen. At least not until FireGirl is much, much older.

- I'm not a big fan of little dogs. I tolerate them, but they annoy me. Dogs should be big.
    related: I will not treat your dog like a baby. I loves me some pets, but they're animals, not infant humans.

- My memory is not good. I blame a lingering "mom-brain". Or my advanced age. If only I could remember when it started... The point is I may completely blank out on important stuff... like your name... even if I've known you for years. Sorry.

- I don't like beer. At all. Nor do I plan on drinking a beverage until it "grows on me" as some have suggested. I'm not sure why this bothers some people, but it does. I find all beer yucky.

- I'm slightly OCD. And by "slightly" I mean I'm OCD but I do a pretty good job of not letting it affect those around me. Unless you're my husband. Or my daughter. But I will straighten the towels in the bathroom. Yes... your bathroom.

- I have a strange need for air. Which shouldn't seem weird, but apparently I need more air flow than most. Or at least, more than my husband. But I actually get physically ill if there's not enough air circulating so I tend to do things like turn the air up in the car and/or roll down a window, even if it's cold. I just need air, 'kay?

- I don't like to dance. Inviting me to anywhere-that-requires-dancing is basically asking me to stand against a wall for extended periods of time. Sometimes I'm okay with that, but I am not okay with you guilting me to join you on the dance floor.

- I'm a night owl. I am actually most productive between the hours of 10pm & 2am. Except I have a job now, and a kid. So having fun between those hours doesn't happen much anymore.
    related: I am not a morning person. I am grumpy and unreasonably hateful when I first wake up. You're better to leave me alone until I've warmed up to the day.
    related: I hate coffee. Even flavored coffees. I've tried the "sweetest" (using that term loosely), and it's still way too bitter for me.

- I tend to run late to things. Especially things that are scheduled in the morning (see above). Even things I think are important. I never used to, and have psycho-analyzed why I can't seem to be on time now, but that's much longer than will fit in this post.

- I don't like seafood. Unless you count canned tuna. But most people don't. I also don't like oriental food (Chinese, Thai, Japanese, etc). I've found a very few items that I like in those cuisines, but not enough for me to pay for an entire meal that I'm not likely to eat. So if you plan on eating there a lot, I'm out.

- I have a 1st shift, 9-5ish job. This means that no, I cannot meet you in the middle of the week in mid-morning. If you wanna get together, it'll have to be an evening or weekend.

I think that completes the list. Well, the list of things I can think of right now that some people might be disturbed to realize later. I'm sure there are other things about me that might annoy the heck out of you as well, but I guess those we'll just have to wait to stumble upon later.

As always, thanks for checking in!

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This post inspired by this post.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Miss Eleventeen

Jena's teacher informed us that she's very smart. She even counted to 10 correctly all by herself.

Me: "Yes, she's been doing that for a while"

Teacher: "But she did it all by herself!"

Me: "Yes, she's been doing that for about a year."

Teacher: "All the way to 10!"

Me: "Uh huh"

See, one of the issues with Jena being shy, is that people tend to not believe me when I tell them that she does these things. Because even though she's been doing them for us for over a year, her teacher is happy just to hear her speak, so thinks this is like a whole new thing.

This... happens.

This... is probably going to continue to happen.

Whatever. She's shy. It's who she is. No biggie. To us anyway.

But back to eleventeen.

Jena has indeed been counting correctly to 10 for well over a year. Definitely before her 2nd birthday. She's been working on getting to 20 for a while.

"1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..10..11..12..13..14...16...18...eleventeen...20 !!!"

Every. Single. Time.

No matter how many times we corrected her, said it for her, with her, showed her the numbers. She gets to 14, then takes off. And that elusive eleventeen, that so many of us never find, well my Jena knows right where it goes... right before TWENTY!

She always says TWENTY like it's a major accomplishment, a celebration. And it is. And every. single. time. we always laugh and celebrate. And when I correct her, and she listens.

But eleventeen persisted. Had for... at least six months or more.

Her new class at school is fantastic, as is her new teacher. And I know that even though she didn't seem to believe me, that the teacher sees Jena's potential. Because she's also told me that she's already letting her do exercises that the "big kids" (ie. 4 yr olds) do (one of the pluses of Montessori education). And Jena can do them just fine. So I know she does see her potential.

Which means that Jena will be counting to 20, correctly, in no time.

In fact, our precious eleventeen has already disappeared.

And I know once she correctly gets to 20 I will be one very proud momma, but I still, most definitely, will miss our eleventeen.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wilderness to Road

For too long I had wandered in this wilderness; dodging branches, trudging thru weeds, trying to find my way.

For too long I had found path after path, hopeful that it would take me where I needed to go, only for it to lead to yet another dead end, another thorny bush, another muddy creek.

For too long I had felt alone in these woods, wondering when, and sometimes if, I would ever find my way to the road that would take me home.

And all this time I had wandered alone, I pictured him knowing exactly where he was going.

I had no idea he was in a different wilderness of his own, just out of sight.

For too long we wandered alone, together.

There were so many moments, high with optimism, when I would see the sun's rays breaking through the dead and bare tree branches ahead of me, lighting up what surely must be an opening that would lead me to the road home.

Yet every time I reached the clearing, it proved to be just that: a clearing. A welcome rest, indeed, but not the way out. Just a sunny, open meadow surrounded by more forested hills, more wilderness to work through, more paths to decipher, negotiate, and be disappointed by.

Until...

Until that one fateful turn, when I saw the Light, and I wanted to go, but having faced disappointment so many times before I hesitated, I waited, I thought about it.

I stared at that Light so long I knew every ray's path through every branch by heart.

And then I decided to take yet another chance, yet another leap of faith. And I tentatively, anxiously walked slowly toward the Light.

And this time, this time, when I walked free of the treeline, my eyes saw but one thing, for there he was, just across from me, looking around as he emerged from his own wilderness.

Our eyes met, and we stared at each other from a distance. Yet in what seemed like an instant we were together, face to face, hand in hand.

Our wastelands behind us, we stood in the Light, tired and muddy, hungry and thirsty, but both of us finally free from the years of struggle we'd suffered through.

He looked down at me, his eyes full of love like I had never seen, as we pledged to continue on this journey together, as we promised to one other that we would, together, find the road home.

There are times in our lives when it seems like the minutes are ticking by at a snail's pace. There are other time's in our lives when it seems like the hours have become seconds. Wilderness feels like a snail. The road? It's like riding a rocket to the Heavens.

In what seemed like just a moment's time we went from wandering in separate wildernesses, to riding on the freeway.

We're coasting now, flying along at record speed.

If you've ever been lost in the woods, you know that there's a comfort that comes when you find the road.

We're not sure exactly where this road is leading, but we do have the Map.

We know where we've been, and we know where we are. The restlessness of wandering is gone. Just waiting for Someone to tell us our destination.

Aren't we anxious, not knowing the destination?

No. We know Who built the road. We know Who wrote the Map. And we know which road we're on.

It's good. Life is good. Love is good.

God is good.

As always, thanks for checking in, and God bless.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Morning

she got her parrot pillow!


Daddy modeling the shirt FireGirl picked out for him

the best Christmas morning face EVER!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Haters

Were you aware that there are people out there who spend copious amounts of time trying to drag other people down?

Oh yes, this happens in real life, but it also happens online.

And this baffles me.

I have read myself posts on message boards saying "oh, this person's blog is awful for reason A,B, or C, you all should hate it too"

And people will spend all kinds of time going to that blog, leaving negative comments, telling everyone how ridiculous that person is, etc.

Some people take it even farther. Sometimes, there are blogs or websites set up to post negative information about another blog or website.

And I'm not talking about company sites, news sites, etc. Sites where there are concrete facts available to credit or discredit someone's statements.

I'm talking 90% he-said-she-said, opinions flying, very little (if any) credible information.

No, this isn't happening to me. But thanks for thinking I'm popular enough to draw such attention, LOL.

But it has happened, and does happen.

And I don't understand it. For several reasons.

Firstly, in every case that I've seen personally, the blogs being criticized also participate in programs that pay them by the view. Which means that every time you go to their site to read stuff you don't wanna read, every time you send another person there to criticize what you don't like... you're paying them.

Don't you understand that? In fact, in one of the cases where I saw it posted on a message board, I ended up liking the blog, and was a regular reader for about a year. I'm sure I wasn't the only one. So by sending me there, you not only gave her a one time hit, you gave her regular hits for about a year.

Good job. You just gave free advertisement to the person you're trying to tear down, and are essentially responsible for supporting them. Brilliant.

Secondly, I don't understand people who have large amounts of time to dedicate to negatively attacking another individual, who they most likely have never met in person.

I, personally, just don't have that kind of time on my hands. Plus, I'd rather dedicate my time to following, reading, and responding to something that I enjoy, not something that I have such strong negative feelings about that I feel the need to react harshly.

I just can't fathom spending the time & energy that some people do into attacking someone else on a personal level. I mean, just from a selfish level, doing so means that you are choosing to immerse yourself in negative emotion on a regular basis.

I just don't understand why someone would do that.

If I don't like a blog or website - either because it just doesn't click with me, or because I actually am opposed to something they are saying or doing* - I don't go there anymore.

It's a wonderful tool, that button on your mouse. Click away from the site you don't like!

Not only does it keep you from continually placing yourself in a position of conflict, it also decreases their views, decreasing whatever revenue they might get from hits.

Plus, you aren't bringing anyone else down with your actions!

It's a win-win-win situation!

This post doesn't really have a point. It's just something that I've come across several times over the past few years, and something that baffles me every. single. time.

I just don't understand it at all.

Thanks for checking in!

***************************
* this is not to say that I don't read blogs of people who disagree with me. In fact, some of my favorite blogs thru the years have been written by bloggers who have viewpoints vastly different from my own. And when they handle themselves with grace & tact, it can be a beautiful thing to open yourself to listening to people who think differently than you

***************************
this post has been stewing around in my brain for a while, but really leapt to the forefront when reading this post

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Venture into Direct Selling

So, I've mentioned in a couple of posts how I decided to try a new activity that would hopefully add a tiny bit of income as well.

That's right, I became a direct seller.

Specifically, I became a consultant for ThirtyOne.

If you're not familiar with ThirtyOne, they sell purses, totes, & storage items via in-home parties. Their name comes from Proverb 31 , the description of the virtuous woman who not only takes care of her home, but also takes things to market & provides income for her family.

I've been buying their products for years, and loved them. Honestly, they cost a little more than I would normally pay, but besides being cute I found their quality to be outstanding, so didn't mind shelling out a few extra dollars for a good quality product.

After about three years as a customer, I decided to talk to my consultant about becoming a consultant myself.

The rest is history.

This is the first time I'd ever done any direct selling business. I never joined ranks with the likes of Pampered Chef, Tupperware, or Mary Kay like many of my friends & family did.

But this was different. It was a product I knew, a company I already believed in, and... well, the low startup cost didn't hurt either.

So... how's it going?

Not as well as I'd hoped.

First of all, like any of these types of endeavours, you get more out of it the more you put into it. And already having a full-time job & struggling to find balance in my personal life... didn't leave me much time.

But FireMan was really supportive, and I had a high-level of interest, so I went for it.

A little too strong maybe.

I offered some incentives out of my own pocket to entice my first few hostesses. And I did get some bookings from that, but barely made enough commission from the parties to cover the incentives I was giving the hostesses.

Overall, right now, I am finally making a profit. After five months. And it ain't much.

But that was my fault, not the company's. Let's be clear about that. A misjudgement on my part.

There's also the fact that in my area, there are sooooo many consultants right now.
I personally know of 12.
I've had quite a few people who I invited to parties or asked if they'd want to host one tell me things like: "I would, but I've already been to six parties in the past four months". And that's a direct quote.
I did a vendor booth at an outdoor event. Mine was one of three ThirtyOne booths.
I had a friend who tried to get me booked as a vendor at a MOPS event, but they already had five ThirtyOne booths booked.

The fact is when you have that many consultants in one area, you're creating an overlap in your potential customer base.

It does say something for how successful the company has been. They've grown by leaps & bounds over the past year or so.

And I hear that the farther out West you go, the fewer consultants there are available. For example, my sister in Iowa had never even heard of the company until I told her what I was doing.

But I digress...

For me, an introvert with a strong heart for customer service, direct selling is incredibly stressful.

Being an introvert means that just being around groups of people tends to wear on me. Yes, even when I'm having fun at a ThirtyOne party.

So now picture putting that person in front of a group of people. I actually enjoy doing the parties, but they do wear. me. out. I come home after a couple of hours at a party I enjoyed more exhausted than after 8+ hours at a job I could take or leave.

I've had two customers that had problems w/ their orders. Okay, one created her own problem, but... being the customer-service oriented person that I am, I stressed about making her happy.

Can I stress the word "stressed"?

I know this isn't gonna make much sense to some of you, but my point is that as much as I enjoy direct-selling, it also really stresses me out.

So now I'm at a crossroads. There's so much of it that I really enjoy, including the parties, and I even enjoyed sitting at a vendor booth for 10 hours in the heat. No lie, I really did. But there's also those parts that stress me out, like the whole interacting with people thing. So I'm at a point where I'm trying to decide if I enjoy it enough to make it worth the stress that I feel.

At this point, I think I really need to point out that my stress comes from my introvert nature, and my social anxiety. It's a me issue, not an issue with ThirtyOne as a company. Basically, introverts probably have no business selling anything, and people with social anxiety have no business presenting items to a group of strangers.

And how something I enjoy can stress me out so much, I have no idea. It's a paradox, I suppose.

I've already agreed to donate an item & a portion of profits to a non-profit fundraiser in February, and have a family member who wants to have a party in March, so I guess I don't need an answer before March.

We shall see...

What about you guys? Have you ever tried direct-selling? How'd it work out for you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Visit to Southern Lights

FireGirl thought this was the best


She picked riding a camel over a pony. She did great!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mourning the Child that Never Was

No, I'm not talking miscarriage. Firstly, because, as anyone who's had a miscarriage will tell you, that child was. Secondly, because I have thus far been blessed in that I have never personally experienced a miscarriage.

What I'm talking about, well, I've never heard anyone talk about. But I know I've felt it, and I think anyone who tried to conceive (TTC) for any amount of time at all has probably felt.

You see, twice in my life I thought I was pregnant... but wasn't. I mean, really really believed I might be pregnant.

The first was a few years ago. Quite frankly, looking back, I was rather naive about it all. But I was having mad mood swings, hunger like I've never experienced, dizziness, and some other symptoms that led me and my boyfriend at the time to start thinking I might be pregnant. The more they went on without subsiding, the more we believed I was. Both of us. We made plans.

Then came time to test, and it was negative.

He was relieved. I was devastated.

I didn't expect to be that upset, or upset at all. The timing was awful, I was not ready, we were not ready, just supporting ourselves and a child would have been difficult. In all practical and logical ways, a negative result should have been a good thing.

And I thought it would be. But when I saw that I wasn't pregnant, my heart sank, I couldn't speak, I wanted to cry. I still remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom trying to put on a happy face while he rejoiced. After all, me being sad didn't make sense.

But I was. Terribly, terribly sad.

Anyone remember that episode of Friends when Rachel is taking the test to see if she's pregnant? And Phoebe initially tells her that it's negative to see how Rachel really feels? Yeah... kinda like that.

Only real life. And it really was negative.

And I was sad.

The second time was a couple of months ago.

No, we're not trying. Ironically, the only two times I thought I was pregnant weren't while TTC.

But for two weeks I had several of the same "signs" that I did during my first trimester with FireGirl. And I didn't have my usual PMS symptoms (fatigue, hunger, and bloating), and then... my period was 4 days late. And seeing as how I'm on thePatch, my periods tend to be about as regular as they come. Four days is a big deal.

I'd already started worrying how to tell FireMan, seeing as how he doesn't want more kids. Decided I would wait until day 6 (the day before I put on the next Patch) to actually test, mentally preparing for the positive. Because... what else could it be? I really, really thought I was pregnant.

And yes, I know statistically it was highly unlikely, but we all know I'm good with the one-in-a-million thing happening to me, right? Besides... I was four days late, plus all of the symptoms... I mean, really? Who wouldn't at least wonder, right?

But then Aunt Flo showed up. Four days late, but with all her glory.

And I was sad. Really sad.

And I finally told FireMan, and he just blew it off like it was nothing.

I don't think this is an emotion men understand.

But I have a friend who is TTC, and after 7 months, this month, she really thought was the month. She really, really did.

But it was negative. Again.

And she is really, really sad.

Not the same kinda sad the previous 7 months of not conceiving, but a different kind of sad.

Because this time she really thought there was a teeny tiny baby growing inside of her. Much like I did. Much like many of us do at one point or another. And finding out that there wasn't... deals a hard blow. It really does.

It's a different kind of sad. And I don't know how to express it, other than to say that it's a type of mourning, a mourning the loss of a child that never was.

Yes, mourning seems a bit strong, and I mean no disrespect to those who have lost a child, I just don't know any other word to express that type of emotion, that sense of loss. It's not as great, of that I am certain, but it's still there.

And nobody talks about it. Which makes us feel alone. Even though I suspect my friend & I aren't the only ones. I suspect it's actually a fairly common emotion, especially among those who are TTC, or have been TTC for a long time. So I decided to talk about it.

What say you, blog world?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Update on Financial Peace

So, as I told you earlier, we're taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University thru our church.

And things are going very well.

Baby Step 1: $1000 emergency fund is complete. That wasn't too difficult, since we still had some in our regular savings, but we opened up a separate account at my work's credit union specifically for our emergency fund, added to our savings, and... done.

We felt like having it in a different account, at this small credit union, makes it a little less accessible. Still available at any time if we need to get it, just not as convenient as having it at the same big-name bank as the rest of our accounts.

Baby Step 2: pay off all consumer debt (except the house) is well under way. We've paid off our TV (old one damaged beyond repair in the move) and our couch & loveseat (old ones literally falling apart) a few months earlier than we thought we'd be able too.We have two more small debts remaining before we start tackling the big guns.

FireMan has been picking up some overtime at the firehouse temporarily to give us some extra $$ to put towards our debt. With the recent holidays, plus various hunting seasons in the late Autumn, there have been plenty of guys looking for someone to cover a shift.
The double-shifts are tough on all of us (when he does a double he's gone around 58 hours at a stretch, home for 12 hours, then gone again), but we feel good knowing that it's temporary and is putting our family in a much better position financially.

I've also been able to bring in a few extra dollars, but not much. Overtime has been denied by my boss repeatedly, and a second job isn't really feasible, especially with FireMan working overnight. Someone does have to stay home with FireGirl, you know.

I have to admit, I hate doing our monthly budget. But I like the results. Because FireMan's income varies slightly depending on how his shifts fall, we budgeted low for our regular income, then we make a plan for where any additional income will go.

For November, the top three were Christmas, Car Insurance (so we can save $100+ by paying in one lump sum), and our lowest credit card bill.

After initial Christmas shopping, I told FireMan I would really like to increase our Christmas budget if we can, so for December our #1 was again Christmas, followed by the building fund at our church, then our lowest bills.

Not sure Dave would agree totally, but we're in agreement as a couple, so that's good.

Since November's our only complete month, I can tell you we actually came in under budget (our regular, low-estimate income). We were shocked. But it allowed us to make an extra payment towards our debt. Yay!

December the only area I'm a little worried about is gas. We came in under in November, but we have no control over the price, and with the holidays we've done more driving than usual. I'm quite sure we didn't budget enough.

One thing that is super-sweet is that when we did our initial budget for November, FireMan refused to take out me getting my hair done (cut + color), even though I had. I eventually convinced him I was okay with it, and insisted that we had more important things to budget for right now.
Then in December he said maybe we should take part of our snowball from paying of our first two debts, and let me get my hair done. I told him 'no', that we had more important things to do, and I would eventually be able to get it done again. That I'm okay with it. He said he just thought I probably wanted to get it done before the holidays.

It just took me by surprise that he's thinking of me, and wanting to put money aside for me to get my hair done! Major brownie points there, FireMan!

Besides our monthly budget meetings to set up the budget for the next month, we also decided to have weekly budget meetings. I think for us, with us being apart so much on a regular basis, these checkpoints are important to keep us on top of things. Especially since we have to split our allotted funds to accommodate him being at the fire house and me being here.

Oh, and our Christmas lists were really boring this year

We had a few practical items on our lists, things we actually need / could use (ironing board cover for me, new jeans for him, wall mount for the TV for the family), plus lots of gift cards (Kroger, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc). The idea behind the gift cards being that either we can pay for the next home renovation project, or that we can use them to buy groceries, then use our grocery money for that month to make an extra payment towards our debt.

Even FireGirl's list is boring. She kept asking for clothes & shoes! Geez! The girl's only three and she wanted clothes for Christmas! Part of me feels bad for "only" getting her clothes & shoes, but she did just have a birthday, plus that's what she asked for (yes, we got her a few toys & books as well, but mostly clothes, since that's what she wants).

Anyway, just wanted to update you on how we're doing, and the answer is... great! Thanks for checking in!
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