Friday, December 30, 2005

Just A Few Notes Today

To LM: Thank you for such a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for celebrating the birth of Christ with me, for relishing the joy of giving great gifts and for enjoying our time together as much as anything. Thank you for my new plant. The one you personally picked out without any help. The one that you chose because of its “easy care”, because its blooms are blue, my favorite color, and because you know how much I love plants! What a wonderful child you are!

To my step-mom: Thank you for the best gift this year. You personally painted a picture of an autumn scene for us. You shared your talents and chose a theme that you thought best suited our lives and interests. The painting is amazing, you are truly talented! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us!

To Bear: I cannot thank you enough for buying my sister a Verizon cell phone. MY budget thanks you!!! I am so thrilled to be able to call her anytime without worrying about using my minutes now!!

To G: I hope you enjoy the album. I know it’s an emotional hurdle to work through. I know you have yet to grieve. I know that reading Mom’s words in Mom’s writing is harder than many things I’ve done lately, but I also know that nothing feels more real, nothing speaks as clearly as her own words telling you how much she loves you. Take your time, enjoy it, savor it, and someday, come sit with me and read through all the letters. Laugh, cry, and remember.

To my dad: Thank you so much for convincing me to buy an HD tv last spring when my old tv finally decided death was better than the life it was living. I have enjoyed watching nothing but football for the last many days and will continue to push the tolerance of my household this weekend on how many hours straight football can play on the tele! By the way, LM loves playing his ps2 games on the nice tele, too, and really looks forward to the bowl games being over so he can watch his new Star Wars movies (I, II, III) on the widescreen with surround sound!

To Mother Nature: Thank you for the mild winter thus far. Thank you for the moderate temperatures, the chance to enjoy the Bark Park, for LM to be out on his scooter, and for us to enjoy a touch of sunshine now and again. We are already looking forward to spring, although we know we have a couple more months of the cold to work through first.

To the Woman Who Made Me A Brunette: I'm getting used to it. This is not to say I prefer it, but I'm at least not shocked when I pass a mirror. The cut will be fantastic in about a month when I can tuck behind my ears once again, but all in all, I'm not feeling homicidal over my bad hair color. Lucky for you.

To the Lovely Folks at Wal*Mart: Standing in line with a pair of kids' sneakers, cat litter, flour and a binder, I find it so odd to think I bought all those things under one roof (all the while smelling Subway bread baking - ew). I know you aspire to be all things for all people, but seriously. It's getting to be a bit much. Especially the smell of Subway.

To the Makers of Emerald Nuts: get a new ad agency.

To Anyone Who Knows Something On the Subject: Is it possible to get an electric fireplace that doesn't need venting? Can I buy such a thing, and have Bear or G build me a beautiful mantle and never have to actually do anything to my interior or exterior walls? Can I create a "portable" fireplace that isn't permanently affixed to this condo?

To Karla: Thanks for the recommendation on the dog training book. I've read it cover to cover now. I'm not certain that it gives me the tools I was looking for, but it was reassuring to know that we're at least doing a whole lot of things right! Maybe I will have to write a book on how to train a LARGE BREED dog.

To the People Who Are Recieving Our Christmas Card Late, aka those of you who failed to inform us that you moved and the original card got returned to us: Pardon the Hannukah and Happy Birthday stamps. Apparently when the post office is in transition to a new stamp, you are given NO OPTION on what kinds you can buy in the interim.

To The New Year: Look out! This woman on a mission is really on a roll! All things are possible! I look forward to the challenges and blessings the New Year will bring to me, to this home and to my family!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I Might Be A Redneck

As you all know (or should if you’re truly a faithful, devoted reader. Ahem) I recently got a DVR. This weekend, I have been putting it to the test, recording classics like “Casablanca”, “The Philadelphia Story” and “Sunset Boulevard”. Today I decided to take a break and enjoy my time off and watch one of my recordings. I chose “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour Movie”.

Oh. My. God.

I have laughed so hard I have tears pouring down my face. I have scared the cat. I have annoyed the dog. I have truly not laughed this hard since…well…since I last spent time with my cough*redneck*cough family.

If you have not seen this, dear god, find it on Comedy Central and watch it. If you have seen it, how do you still sleep at night?! I don’t care who you are, that’s funny stuff right there!

P.S. Someone out there tell me there is a sequel to this movie.

If You Want To Hear God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans

My senior year of college I took the GRE. I was having so much fun as an Assistant Residence Director that I wanted to continue on as a Graduate Assistant in Residential Life. Only my college didn’t offer grad courses. So I took the necessary tests, and voyaged to Osh Kosh, Wisconsin for a huge interviewing weekend for GA’s in Res Life. Trouble was I had no idea or ambition as to what I wanted to STUDY while in Grad School. I just knew that academia was a cool place from which I never wanted to leave. A perpetual student I would be. Several schools offered me GA positions, but due to my upcoming marriage, and his local job, we decided to stay put and not pursue them.

I got married the day before I graduated college and my mom passed away three short months later. Having spent the summer caring for her, I had no job waiting for me when we finally settled into married life. I substitute taught trying to get a full-time teaching position, something I desperately desired, until I found out a couple years later that we were unexpectedly expecting.

I had the incredible privilege of staying home with LM until I moved out. I was grateful for not having taught before, as it made it easier to stay home having never had two full salaries in the house to begin with. When I pursued the divorce, however, not only did I have to come to terms with ending our marriage, I had to accept the fact that it meant I could no longer be home with LM. I had to support us both. I wanted to go back to school. Ultimately, I wanted to teach college English courses. I needed my masters at the very least.

It had been more than five years since my first shot at the GRE so I studied all over again and took the test with all hopes of getting high enough verbal scores to land me at a decent school. I did. But what was even more surprising to me at the time was that my analytical skills were much much higher than my verbal. In the midst of trying to secure a GA to help fund this quest back into college, my soon-to-be ex announced that he thought juggling school and a child was too much for me to handle, and he wanted full custody. Then and there I ended my dream of going to Grad school.

The funny part to me is I’m so glad I didn’t go. Teaching college English would have required me to play the tenure game; to get published routinely and in all the right places. To move about from university to college and back again until I was able to settle into a “home” that I would then work at for the rest of my life. I would never have been happy. Or so I would guess.

When I was married, I wanted a houseful of kids. Five was the number I spoke often, much to the dismay of my then husband. Now I know that had we actually had more than one, maybe not five, but even two or three, I don’t know how I would have gotten to where I am. There would be still younger ones at home, I wouldn’t be able to take this new job without paying half my salary to child care. As much as I hold out hope that more kids will come into our lives in some manner, right now today I see how having one has made more things possible.

My analytical side, shockingly well demonstrated on the GRE, has finally turned inward. I have finally taken a good long look at the forest and I have seen exactly why certain trees were planted, and why some died. I have finally realized that this life might be my own, but ultimately, it is lived harmoniously when I allow God to take the wheel. Let go, Let God. I’ve heard it, but I’m just now seeing it in my own life.

I am already looking ahead to 2006 and making my list of resolutions. They almost always say the same things. Lose weight, stop swearing, save more money, blah, blah, blah. My analytical side, however has decided the best approach is to simply let God lead. Great things have happened over the last few months since I have turned things over. This woman on a mission, empowered by God, has gotten a great grip on her finances, changed jobs and negotiated a raise in salary!

One of these days, I know that God will open my heart and my life to a new relationship. One that never would have been possible if I had stayed with my ex and played the game, shutting out my heart. I will allow God to work on that plan, and to bring that person in when we are both ready for each other. I trust that He knows far better than I do what “type” of man is best for me!

As 2006 draws near, I look forward to starting my new job, on continuing to work towards the financial goals I have set for myself. I look forward to the challenges and joys that will come as a parent this year and all the lessons LM will teach me. Most of all, I look forward to the revelations of all that God has in store for us.

Let Go, Let God.


P.S. If you haven’t read, The Five People You Meet In Heaven I urge you to do so. No one in our lives is insignificant. And perspective on life is sometimes all we need to glimpse heaven. (For those who prefer not to actually READ, it's also a movie.)

P.P.S. G is back home from his trip to my dad’s. My package is waiting at the post office for him tomorrow. I begged him not to open it at work but to wait until evening. I’ll let you know how the album goes over.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bark Park In Latin Means Mud Park

We went to the Bark Park yesterday, a visit that was long overdue. With 50 degree temperatures and snow melting as fast as it had fallen, the park was nothing but a big mud pit. We had intended to stop for a bath on the way home anyway, but this trip made a bath mandatory!

We met 'Dempsey' a 7 month old Boxer that we hope to run into again. He was as energetic as the day was long, not intimidated by Gabe in the least and just wanted to play! They tugged on each others' ears, jumped on each others' backs (in the perverted way, too) and had so much fun!

Gabe wore out finally and just layed his sorry self in the mud and let the puppers jumpe and climb all over him. It was just too cute.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Too Tired to Play, Gabe Just Laid In The Mud


Even when Gabe got so tired he had to lay down, Dempsey kept trying to get him to play! Posted by Picasa

Gabe and Dempsey (7 month old boxer)


Gabe and Dempsey (a 7 month old boxer) had a great time in the mud! Posted by Picasa

A Trip To Bark Park Means We All Need A Bath


A visit to Bark Park means we all need a bath Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005

H.A.L.T.

Each evening, LM and I do “H.A.L.T” over dinner. We discuss our High’s, Lows And Thanks (I know, that's really HLAT- work with me here) we even throw in something we’re proud of that day. LM is already gone to Pittsburgh for the holiday, so tonight, you’ll have to listen to my HALT.

Low: (we always get lows out of the way first) My low was having my ex show up way earlier than I was expecting to take Jacob to Pittsburgh. I wanted a few hours with LM to just enjoy being done with my job, and getting ready for our Christmas next Wednesday.

High: Leaving my job. Being done. I feel so good about my decision to leave. The chairman of our board never ONCE said a word to me personally or even in email about me leaving. I’m glad to move on.

Thanks: I am thankful for my sister’s sense of humor. Tonight, on the phone with her, she actually said, “hold on a second” and put the phone down so she could blow dry her hair for two minutes. When she got back on the phone, to the sounds of my uproarious laughter, she said, “I know this will be in your blog later!” She doesn’t read my blog (yet) but it was heartwarming to me to see her take it all with humor!! I love my sis!!

Something I am proud of: I am very proud of myself for laughing WITH and not AT my ex husband when I saw his “Support Our Troops: BoyScouts” bumper sticker on the car he just bought. The sticker belongs to the previous owner, but I just couldn’t believe J hadn’t taken it off first thing. He saw the irony and thought it was kinda funny, too. It was actually WAY FREAKING FUNNY but I showed restraint. Sorta. (If you don’t get the irony, realize my ex husband is gay and the BoyScouts are one of the most vocal organizations about their opposition to homosexuality.) See? Isn’t it kinda funny? I’m telling ya, ya gotta find the humor in the situation.

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, tell me your H.A.L.T. Better yet, if you can find a better acronym to represent highs, lows, thanks and something to be proud of, I’d love to hear it! (Some families call it thorns and roses, for example).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Quack

I’m a lame duck. Not a news flash to many of you, but with only today and a half day tomorrow left at my icky job, I’m little more than a lame duck. I sat and watched (happily mind you) as someone else in the office did my usual things (they were not nearly so happy about it). I cleaned off the walls of my cubicle. I stared at an email merge while it processed 500 emails. We went to our “holiday lunch” at 1. Talked about this woman’s son who has size 18 shoes. No one went back to the office afterwards. I made a quick stop at the comic book store (I hope to retire on the collective worth of these blasted things when I’m old. I’m paying $3 apiece now, I figure they’ll be worth about $1 then but by the sheer volume, we should have a million easily).

Cable guy came tonight. Only it was a different cable guy so I didn’t get to see his shock and disappointment when he found me to be a brunette. We now have a functioning DVR but doesn’t it figure there’s NOTHING on the tv tonight that I even want to watch more or less save for another day.

The highlight of my day tomorrow (other than of course jumping for joy at never driving over an hour to work again) is that I will finally be able to wrap several of the gifts I have and to put them all under the tree!!! I can’t wait!!

At least football will be back on in the next day or so with the 100 bowl games that will occur over the next 2 weeks. Just to forewarn you in case you don’t already see this coming, I’m no fun at all to be around after the SuperBowl is over. I start watching golf and Nascar is on in late February, but I have to go through football withdrawal and it isn’t pretty. Not. Pretty. At. All.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Marketing Pacino

I turned on the tele around 9 tonight, didn’t find much on. Looked through the guide and saw that “Scarface” with Al Pacino was on. Never saw it, now seemed as good of a time as any.

I’m used to watching shows that are outside of my demographic. I’m a single, 34 year old female with a child. Yet I never (NEVER) turn on Lifetime, H&G channel or Bravo. (except for the occasional “Actors Studio”) I’m an ESPN girl. If it’s not sports, it’s not on my tv. This year I watched Lost and Survivor but neither are normally my shows. About the only “family” show I watch is the Amazing Race.

All that is to say that I’m used to watching commercials that don’t interest me at all. They aren’t geared towards women, or mothers. But watching Scarface is more interesting for the commercials that they are showing. I’m clearly very very VERY far from the normal demographic for this movie. The commercials have been as follows: “Wolf Creek”, Sleep Number Bed, “The Ringer”, WWF, James Bond movies, Xbox, Jack Daniels, Diamonds, Axe Body Spray, Gillette razors, Sprint/Nextel, ATV’s/Dirt Bikes, Grand Theft Auto, Campbell’s Chunky Soup, Tanqueray, “Serenity”, and Victoria’s Secret.

How interesting it must be to be a man. Seriously. Violence, horror, alcohol, sex appeal, manly toys, video games full of violence and soup?

Don't get me wrong, I'll take some of that over diaper and tampon ads anyday. At least the soup and diamonds anyway.

Wednesday

Thus far, my adventures as a brown-haired girl haven’t been all that exciting. Today I was put in charge of babysitting the folding machine at work while it stuffed a mailing. Tomorrow we have two meetings and then our “holiday/goodbye lunch”. Won’t that be fun?

My dad’s Christmas package hasn’t arrived. He mailed it on December 8th from Tennessee. It should have been here by the 12th. I called and told him. He shipped through the post office, no tracking, no confirmation and no insurance. Well, that makes this so fun, doesn’t it?!

The most exciting part of my day has to be that a chamber member asked if anyone we knew would be interested in a couple of sofas. My home is so nice. I have great furniture, beautiful end tables, coffee table, etc. because my dad and brother in law have made them all for me. My couches, on the other hand, were the ones we bought when we got married (13 years ago). They have been slip covered many times which drive me absolutely insane!! Hopefully tomorrow I will get to go look at these couches. Another member was giving away a leather sectional with two reclining sections and a pull out bed. Only a year and a half old. Would have LOVED that but I can’t transport it, nor can I get it up my stairs. I’m not all that certain that drool + leather would have been a good idea (not mine, you knuckleheads, the dog’s!!) Maybe these others will be a good thing. We’ll see.

As for tonight, we have huge plans!! Let’s see, first off, we have to get the mountain of recycling out the door. They pick it up on Thursdays, usually around 3 and we always have a full bin, but last week they came before 7am and we missed them entirely so this week we have a mountain of it and I can’t wait for it to be gone! Other than that, I brought home garden veggie soup and crusty French bread from Panera’s (these are my last couple of days working right across the street from the heavenly place!) so we’ll certainly enjoy that. Don’t you envy us our great Wednesday night plans?! I thought so!

For those who will be headed out in the next couple of days to travel for the holiday, be safe, well and happy! Enjoy your journey and the people you see! If you’re going someplace warm, enjoy. If you’re going someplace miserable and cold, feel free to send me a postcard. It will make me glad to be home!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Synopsis

Day at work: three days left and counting. Boss is in complete denial or doesn’t seem to think I actually do anything as she doesn’t think she needs to ask me anything before I go. All this translates into: Amy did absolutely nothing all day at work. LOVE THIS JOB (insert high levels of sarcasm here).

Haircut after work: I went in because I’ve paid no attention to my highlights and just let them grow out and they look wretched, so I thought I’d get that taken care of now that it’s the end of December and all. The stylist was holding up the swatches to match my regular color and she says, “We’ll go with this warm brown…” I say, “um, I’m a redhead.” She says, “a redhead? Really?” wow, 34 years with this hair, you’d think I’d have the color down by now. Needless to say, I’m a little more of a brunette now than I’ve ever been.

Evening after work: I was so busy losing the appeal of being a redhead in favor of being a brunette that I missed the cable guy for our third date. Really think this guy has a thing for me. Oh no, wait, it’s just that they can’t get my DVR to work. He was supposed to bring a whole new unit tonight but I missed his visit, so they will have to come back on Thursday. Hope he’s not disappointed that I’m not a redhead anymore.

So that’s really that.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Winner Of Uncle Of The Year 2005

A huge, 43 pound box arrived tonight from my sister. Bear (her husband) had left me a voicemail the other day to call when the box arrived as he had some ‘splainin to do. I lugged the thing up the stairs and then called. Bear said, “The Christmas presents are on top. Then there is the bill holder you wanted that Jules was getting rid of (yippee!) and then the two slip covers. (They got new furniture, I got their slip covers. Nice, huh?) Wrapped in the slip covers in the bottom is something I thought LM would like. It’s an old word processor. There’s an extra cartridge but I’m not even sure if it’s good any more. If he doesn’t want it or it doesn’t work, just throw it away, I just thought he might get a kick out of it after playing with the typewriter at Papa’s house this summer.”

a) Bear is the coolest uncle ever. He’s the same man who gave LM his old Sega system for “Mission Control” up in LM’s loft.

b) The Christmas gifts weighed maybe 3 pounds total. Bear spent the money and effort to send over an outdated, used, ancient word processor ‘just for kicks’.

c) Out of anything that LM owns, plays with or wants in life, this machine just made his day. Day?! Month, year maybe! He sat right down and started typing away!

It is so true what people say about kids. Spend as much as you want on the gift, the child will be more amused with the box it came in. Price doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a great gift. If you could see LM’s face as this machine just types out what he wrote on the word processor, you’d see that this piece of throw-away technology has delighted him something silly.

I have already heard stories this season of parents spending double or triple on ebay the retail price of an item in order to secure the precious things their child put at the top of their list. I have heard of parents buying 10 year olds cell phones, ipods and even Blackberrys. (blackberries?) LM will have some nice things under the tree this year, but as Bear and I both know, the simplest things delight him. (You should see how excited he gets about having $5 to spend at Lowe’s!)

May you all have a truly delightful Christmas season and may you let your heart rejoice in the simple things in life.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Peace

I suppose I should have a lot to say. I really haven’t been writing lately. But I just don’t have much to say. I finished G’s album. It’s ready to be mailed tomorrow. All shopping is done. The work I brought home is finished. I have 4 ½ days left at my current job and then a nice week off before I start the new one. On Karla’s suggestion, I bought a new dog training book that I hope to get into this week.

That’s it. That’s the excitement.

Funny thing is, as boring as all that sounds, I am so peacefully content lately. Life is good, I am happy, LM is happy.

Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Lesson Learned In The Presence of the Big Man Himself (And I Don't Mean Santa)

I sat at the table full of books welcoming each child over after they had either spoken to Santa or had hidden behind their parents out of fear (although the curiosity always brings little eyes around to peek at the man in the red suit). I explained to the parent accompanying the child that the books had been donated by a non-profit member of the chamber and each child could choose one to take with them for free. The word “free” seemed to startle some parents, it made them feel awkward, I almost wanted to ask for a small donation just to make them feel better.

I watched time after time as the parents would turn to their child and explain that they could pick out a book – “any book you want!” I watched as the child’s eyes grew big, as they would look at all the books. Pick this one up to examine it more closely. Put it down and reach for another. Puppies or cats? ABC’s or 123’s? Books about Pirates or Princesses? At some point along the way one book would choose the child. And they would take it in, close to their hearts, not opening it, not reading it there, just clutching it with sheer adoration.

And then I’d see the parent. Rifling through the books themselves. Saying, “Hmm…honey? Did you look at this one? What about Bob the Builder? Did you see this one about dinosaurs?” I wanted them to look at their child. I wanted them to look at their child and SEE.

“How about this one, dear? How about this “Pooch on the Loose?” Or how about Thomas the Tank Engine?”

And then they might turn and see that their child has allowed a book to choose them, they would see the child holding this book near and dear to them. And they would say, “oh, sweetie, hm…not that book. How about THIS book?”

One parent even got into a tug-of-war trying to take a book out of her daughter’s arms. Parents tried to do a quick swap, or to give their child a cookie and offer to hold the book the child had so they could swap it for another.

Why is it necessary to take away the voices of our children? Why do we start so early on convincing them that they cannot make good decisions on their own? Why do we offer up the right – “choose any book YOU want to!” and then take it away – “Oh no, not that book!”



After 5 hours and two different locations with Santa and his entourage, as I wore thin of parents forcing screaming children into the laps of the man who is the source of their fear; as I watched parents embarrass their children by bringing them when they are 15 years old, or by taking more of the free handouts than they were supposed to; after a long day of dealing with the exact part of the holiday I detest and have boycotted myself, there came a mother.

She was Caucasian with an Asian daughter. They were both beautiful. They had the Big Guy all to themselves as it was late in the day and there were no lines left. They were taking their time. They had watched outside the room, through the glass for awhile and had now come in a little closer. Mom helped daughter off with her coat- she was maybe 3 years old. They stood for a few moments together and just watched Santa. Mom explained to me that her daughter was a little shy about it, a little unsure. I said, “There’s absolutely no rush, take your time.” They finally walked slowly up and mom suggested that the daughter shake hands with Santa. Which she did just fine, and she talked to him a little and eventually sat on his lap. Mom was able to back up and take a couple photos that were picture-perfect.

And when it was all said and done and we had given the little girl her “goodie bag” and she had picked out her one free book, she and her mom sat right down on the floor together to look at the things that she had in her bag, to stick stickers on themselves, to eat some of the candy cane and to hug the little bear. They read the book they had picked out.

I noticed even later that they were still reading books together in the library, munching on the cookies.

They had made an afternoon out of it. It was the daughter’s agenda, not Mom’s. There was no rushing off to the next stop, no store they had to get to right now, nothing else in the world that needed to get done except enjoy the moment.

All the parents will go home with a photograph of their child (screaming or not) on Santa’s lap. The picture seeming to be the actual event. “Sit right there – no, over there. Wait, move your coat. Hold on, don’t move. Wait, let me hold that book. Okay, smile! No, not your cheesy smile, give me a real smile! Okay one more! Okay, now, tell Santa what you want and get your bag, there are other kids waiting!”

This child will go home with a memory of the event etched in her heart - a memory far more about her relationship with her mother than one with Mr. Claus. And I came home with a sweet reminder of how to show my child that I love him more than anything. By simply paying attention.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

News!

The job is officially mine.

You'll pardon me if I go do an evening-long happy dance, won't you?

Houston, We Have A Problem

Dads will be dads. Whatever that means, it apparently includes being a bit overly concerned about his middle child’s track record.

Last night, after calling my dad with the news about the job offer, I received three emails from him with suggestions and advice about negotiations and concerns. I’m 34, I’m fairly certain I can handle it, but I understand his need to be needed and his desire for me not to sell myself short.

The first two emails were innocent enough. Ideas on trade-offs that I might make to help negotiations (mind you, I’m asking for an incredibly minimal change to their offer).

The third email concerned me that maybe his blood thinners are affecting his brain.

This new job requires a security clearance. Not a big deal, the employer said, and certainly nothing they’ve made any sort of a fuss over or expressed any kind of concern for. But Dad, in all of his infinite wisdom says, and I’ll quote directly, “Worrier that I am, is there any concern about what would happen if you didn't pass your security clearance? Could you be in a position of having quit one job and not be eligible for the other? I cannot imagine what could prevent the security clearance. I had one (Top Secret). However, what if J has contact with something questionable or S, not being a citizen, had something in his background. You don't have to answer this; I am just asking the what if questions”

Let me clarify. My Dad. Thinks. I might not want to quit my current job. Until. I know if I can pass security clearance on the new job. Because. I have a gay ex husband. And. I dated a Canuck.

While these two events in and of themselves might fall into the “mistake” category, they certainly aren’t CRIMINAL. (Are they?)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Exhale

An offer is on the table. Formalities now really until it's absolultely official but it does look as if I might be able to give notice on Friday! I cannot begin to explain how good this feels! I'm writing my counter-proposal tonight (minor, MINOR suggestions - it's really just an exercise in me asserting myself than anything. That and I understand the importance of always negotiating SOMETHING on a new job. - Did you know that over your lifetime you could lose over $1M by NOT negotiating your first job out of college?)

Anyways, thanks to all for your prayers and well-wishes. This is the best Christmas gift ever!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Still Waiting

To everyone out there who are saying prayers, crossing fingers, making a wish, and whatnot on my behalf, don’t think I’ve been leaving you hanging on purpose. The gist is this: I interviewed for a new job the Friday before Thanksgiving week. They told me a dozen times how impressed they were with me and my resume. They introduced me to all the head honchos. They had two more interviews and they’d be deciding.

Then I didn’t hear anything.

Last week after an email on my part, they said they had their last interview that day and would be in contact. The next day they sent me an email asking me (if I was still interested) to send 3 references to them. I sent 4 about 2 hours later.

Yesterday they called one reference. Today they spoke with another.

I know companies are busy, but do they not look at it from the other point of view? I have other resumes out there, I don’t know what to say to other offers right now, because this is the one I’m really interested in. And I REALLY REALLY HATE my current job and would like to give notice before I have to start the New Year in the same crappy job.

Anyways, a HUGE thanks to everyone out there thinking about me and the situation. Everything looks good and promising, but I have nothing solid yet to go on. I WILL let you know whenever I know. I promise. In the meantime, I won’t hold it against you to uncross those fingers, they’ve probably gone numb long ago.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

A long, long time ago..I can still remember, how that music used to make me smile.. oh wait, sorry. (Aren't you glad you have that stuck in your head now?) Awhile back I remember chatting with this guy online. Not so much in the “let’s hook up later” sort of a chatting way, just a hey, you have a mastiff and I have a mastiff and isn’t that cool, kind of a way. But he was cute, and had FOUR mastiffs and we chatted off and on for a couple of months or so. He definitely seemed interested, and the conversation wasn’t always just about the dogs, but neither of us really ever took the next step to meet or anything. I don’t recall being THAT interested. But I might have met him had he asked. Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed just meeting his dogs!

Anyways, wouldn’t ya know it, on the cover of the local paper today is this guy’s picture with two of his mastiffs. They won the Philly dog show for best in breed. I wouldn’t forget a cute face (the mastiff’s) nor this guy, I’m certain.

And interestingly enough right next to him in the photo is his WIFE. Hmm…certainly don’t ever remember having heard the word “wife” anywhere in conversation. Hmm…

I’m so suddenly glad that I never asked to meet this guy or his cool dogs, even if I could say, ‘Ahh, I knew Wyatt the Mastiff when…”

Saturday, December 03, 2005

O Christmas Tree


O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree Posted by Picasa

Christmas Spirit

Tree is up, lit and decorated. It looks beautiful. Garland adorns the deck and the stairwell. Christmas decorations are placed throughout the house and Martina sang all afternoon. Ahhh….Christmas is coming! No presents under the tree until we see how Gabe handles the whole thing.

Tonight is movie night. We’ll be watching Madagascar and enjoying homemade pizza again. A tradition in its own right.

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday as much as we are enjoying ours!

Friday, December 02, 2005

O Holy Night

Tomorrow we are braving the Closet Of Death to get out the Christmas decorations. Despite having my shopping done and cards in the mail, the spirit of Christmas has still thus far eluded me. Tomorrow, however, I will dig out the Christmas music and try my best to get into the spirit of it all.

I love music. I do. And I love Christmas music. Mostly. I just really hate made-up Christmas songs sung my famous singers who ought to stick to lip-syncing on SNL. I like traditional Christmas music. But it seems that on every CD they have to stick some comical Santa-ish song just to be fun and cute and original. I don’t want original.

All that said, a few years ago I discovered what would quickly become my all-time favorite Christmas CD. There isn’t a single, solitary hokey song on the whole thing. Martina McBride's "White Christmas". I know, she’s “country”. I love country music, but I understand that many people don’t. Please know that there is absolutely nothing about her amazing voice or the incredible traditional songs that would ever make you say “um, sweetums, cuhd ya pass me dat der banjo?”

What do you listen to around the holidays? What are your favorite songs? Do you have a favorite CD that you play over and over endlessly?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Nine

I forgot today. I really did. Even in the midst of the tears it took me awhile to remember it. He seemed far more emotional than was warranted for the events he was telling me about. Until I remembered. Fourth grade is hard. It really is. I don’t mean that sarcastically, I know it’s hard to tell in typed words. Here I sat, with LM sobbing and sobbing because we had an altercation and he was just crying far more than seemed appropriate.

We sat down to talk and he immediately declares the whole day as bad. Not just the evening where we had an issue, but the. whole. day.

They played basketball in gym and his team couldn’t even score one basket. LM is the furthest thing from an athletic child. He has no interest in it, and so very little ability follows. But here he was upset at his whole team not being able to put together ONE shot at the basket that would go in. I kept saying, “it’s only a game, honey, it’s only PE” he kept saying, “I know, Mom, I kept telling myself that…” but still he sobbed.

I had forgotten how high the hoops are when you are nine. I had forgotten how big the ball is, and how heavy it seems to bounce and pass. The whole game seems awkward when you’re that age, and ‘team work’ is something you hear but nothing anyone knows how to actually do well, not in PE.

And then he had lied to me. Lying is a crime punishable by death or near-death-torture in my house. Okay, no, not really, but he KNOWS I have huge issues with it, mainly because he is allowed to be home for bits of time alone and such things and I HAVE to be able to trust him. He truly is a great kid, a very moral child, but every once in awhile, he feels the need to lie. His lies aren’t even manipulative. He doesn’t tell me he lost his lunch money so I give him more and he actually buys comic books with the cash. His lies are more along the “I already practiced trumpet, did my homework and vacuumed the stairs, can I read?” when in fact, I learned tonight, that neither the trumpet practice nor the chore had actually been done. All he wanted to do was read.

It’s hard (and I mean HARD) to punish a child for reading, believe me. But Jacob reads for hours a day. It is not as if he never has time, or isn’t allowed, or never has new books. When we talked later, we established that having done the things he was supposed to do, he would have had nearly 4 hours to read tonight and almost any night if he so chooses.

But it’s hard to be nine. It’s hard to go practice your trumpet or vacuum the stairs when there’s a new Star Wars book that you’ve gotten half way into and it’s just begging to be finished. It really is a hard choice.

I had forgotten how hard those things can be.

Privileges were revoked, stern words were said, conversations were held, hugs were given, kisses and “I love you’s” exchanged and a compromise reached to salvage the privilege of Movie Night this week.

Being single, I sometimes forget that just because I’m the only adult in the house, it doesn’t mean I’m the only one who has had a bad day. LM is an easy going, laid back, great kid. He doesn’t get riled up often. Today was a very bad, no good, rotten to the core day. I hope I remember it for a long while to come so that I might always give him the same latitude I would want afforded to me on my very bad days. It doesn’t make it okay to lie, but it certainly helps to remember how small things can trigger a lot when the world has piled it on. Even in fourth grade.

Tomorrow will surely be better, if for no other reason than it's not a PE day, it's an Art day. That might make all the difference.

The Much Anticipated Christmas Letter

ESPN SportsCenter with Chris Berman December 2005

Good evening Everyone and welcome to SportsCenter! I’m Chris Berman, glad to be with ya. Tonight, I’m going to take you back, back, back to early last year when the FFL (Family Football League) welcomed a new expansion team, The W/F's. Pre-season critics were especially skeptical of the W/F team’s potential for success due to a complete lack of athletic ability and only sideline knowledge of the game, but the team has taken the league by surprise and has proven to be leaders in their division. Tonight we’ll take a look at what makes this team so successful.

The W/F team is lead by their indisputable coach, God, and includes quarterback, Amy, aka “The Mominator” and lead receiver, Jacob, aka “Bocaj”. The entire defensive line has been taken over by Gabriel, “The Mighty Mastiff”, and felines Jonah and Scout provide offensive support predominantly in the litter box section. The W/F team plays all home games at the Purina Pet Food Stadium in PA.

A season-long challenge for the team has been “The Mominator’s” job. Local interviews have been held, but to date, a sufficient offer has not yet been made. The team is hoping for a smooth transition into something that better fulfills Amy’s career aspirations off the field.

Lead receiver, “Bocaj” went early in the draft to the team showing excellence in the local Elementary School’s 4th grade program. I was impressed during a mid-season interview with “Bocaj”, when he expressed his ambitions of pursing a career in Science once his FFL career is over. Unlike many other athletes, Jacob is learning to play the trumpet and enjoys inventing, creating and training on his bike. He leads the FFL in NBC (number of books completed) and his stats are equally impressive in LAN (laps around the neighborhood). This guy’s a full package and is only nine! Watch out FFL, you’re going to have your hands full defending this one! With an incentive in his contract for new Star Wars Comic books, Jacob could-go-all-the-way!

Gabriel has left his mark during the season thus far, mainly on the couch, pillows, shoes and toilet paper, but fortunately gets along well with his other teammates, even Jonah and Scout (most of the time). He came into the season a little undersized, but has since tipped the scales at 200 pounds. His season on the field was most noted for BSN’s (Between Snap Naps). He is utilizing this success in contract negotiations with management. He wishes to relocate the team to Bark Park Stadium and add peanut butter sandwiches as a signing bonus. His manager, Drew Rosenthal, is good, but I don’t think he’s that good. Next Question!

The team traveled to Michigan last Christmas for an inner-league tournament over the holidays. It was a fight to just get to the field with bad weather conditions and traffic, but teams C, W, and Brother “G” were all in attendance. Although some disputes remain concerning an illegal on-side kick and an “encroachment” challenge during overtime, all agree that the tourney was a great success.

For off-season training, Jacob spent the summer months away from the team, working with trainers in Tennessee and Pittsburgh. Many hours of biking and swimming helped to get Jacob into fine football condition. The Quarterback and Lead Receiver were glad to be reunited at summer’s end in time for the start of the season and, in my humble opinion, are more united than ever.

The team has had a successful season to date and is already preparing for next year. The Swami predicts this W/F team will achieve even higher goals in 2006, including reaching the Disney Cruise Bowl next December.

From ESPN studios, I am Chris Berman, wishing you and yours a very blessed Christmas from all of us at Sports Center.