Monday, January 30, 2006

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The Small Stuff

I could tell you about my weekend – how I’m on my third set of sneakers trying in vain to find a solution for my numbness. How the sales clerk told me that if the Nike Shox don’t work I should SEE.A.DOCTOR. (They don’t work.)

I could tell you about George, who sat down after lunch on Sunday with a fork ready for “cake and ice cream, Mom!” only to have it explained to him that cake and ice cream was being served after lunch at the nursing home they had visited earlier that morning, NOT at George’s house.

I could write about our search for a back-up alternative to our usual do-it-yourself dog wash ($2) that has been closed for a month, that led us to PetSmart and a quote of $32 for a mastiff and another place that was so creepy-bizarre I wouldn’t go in there even WITH my 200-pound dog.

I could write about our cable escapades, how in an effort to fix our “On Demand” issues, the tech totally wiped out our DVR (44% full of movies at the time). Very Comcastic, Indeed.

I could write about so many themes today, but admittedly, my mind is elsewhere.

On Friday, LM took a phone message for me from a college friend of mine who had lost my email address. I was supposed to see her and her family last fall, but by strange set of circumstances, didn’t end up able to. I hadn’t heard from her since, and was thrilled that she had called and quickly sent off an email asking her how everything was.

This morning I received the reply.

Her email told me of how thankful she was that her husband had seen the writing on the wall and changed jobs a year ago, to a different news station in the city, and had recently received a promotion and a 3-year contract. Just a couple weeks ago, his former station gave all employees two-weeks notice and shut their doors.

She told me about how they had changed their will after the twins were born, to name different guardians when they became a family with four kids instead of just two. The family they named agreed to be guardians but only if they had regular contact with the kids even now, so should anything happen, they would all know each other well. She told me how great this relationship has been and how much her kids love going over to their guardians’ house.

And then she told me about Josh, one of her twin boys that might be 3 or 4. How he had developed spots of petechiae last fall, and seemed to have more bruises than her other, rough-housing twin. She took him to the doctor; who immediately called in a second doctor; they sent her to the children’s hospital where they ran blood tests. Right then and there Josh was admitted for the next 10 days with a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He’s been undergoing Chemo every week, in and out of the hospital every time he runs a fever, and sometimes having to stay inside for a week at a time to caution against getting an infection when his counts are low.

But she goes on to say that if you’re going to get Leukemia, this is the one to get. She gives the positive prognosis, tells how incredibly well little Josh is handling it all (including spinal taps), how his siblings are being so courageous and helpful. She tells of her gratefulness for their guardians who were able to sweep in and take the kids home when they unexpectedly admitted Josh that very first day and the two times he's been hospitalized since. How it helped her other three kids to not be anxious about what was going on because they were so familiar with this family. How they haven’t had to worry about her husband’s job, or to be in the middle of a frantic job search right now because of the solid change they made a year ago.

She was full of praises for a loving God, and for the blessings they have in their life that have made all of this so much easier. She was, truth be told, jovial. She was not telling me of how horrible their year has been. She was not catching me up on all the “bad news” of her family. She was telling me of how blessed they are. How GREAT things are going, how WELL Josh is now. She even enclosed a picture and commented on how God has placed a bubble around little Josh as he hasn’t had many of the nasty side-effects of Chemo to date, the picture showing a happy little boy with a head full of hair.

I have heard it said, and have believed within my own life that you shouldn’t “sweat the small stuff”. It seems so easy to do when it’s just the starter on the car, or just the cable going out. But in the face of her young son diagnosed with leukemia, my dear friend Julie has reminded me that it is ALL small stuff in the hands of God.

May God continue to bless you and your family, Julie.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Perspective

It went something like this:

Sorting through my “important papers” on Wednesday in order to get my tax paperwork in order I was looking over my escrow analysis report that came about a month ago. My escrow had been figured wrong when I bought my home and the second year I had to pay significantly more to compensate, so this year we are finally “caught up” and back to where I should be. I was looking over the various numbers and saw at the bottom of the form, in the exact colors of the form and not at all looking like it was important, was a check. Or what appeared to be a check. It took me about 15 minutes of trying to read the fine print on the back of the form to realize this is reimbursement for overpayment last year (can’t these people get the figures right?!). The check is for $400. I probably would never have noticed it if I hadn’t just decided to look more carefully at the numbers on the report.

Jump to last night. I leave work at 5, have to deposit this “found money” in the bank in our vacation fund, and stop at the athletic store for inserts for my sneakers. (I’m having a horrible time during my workouts on the elliptical with my toes going painfully numb! – I thought those gel inserts might help, since I have tried replacing my shoes and that didn’t seem to matter.)

Grab what I need, head out to my car. It won’t start. Now, I have a nice, good car. A 2003. I have headlights and radio and the like, but it won’t start. It won’t click. It won’t even TRY to turn over. Nothing. I make sure it’s in Park. I make sure the steering wheel isn’t locked. I try and I try and I try. Nothing.

Reach for my cell. No cell. Now, I am NEVER without my cell phone, especially since LM gets home before I do, and it’s his way of reaching me if he needs something. No cell phone.

So, I go into Staples and call my ex husband, he gives me the number for the local Ford dealer down the road, and he’ll call LM and let him know I’ve run into troubles.

Ford Dealer can’t look at my car now. Maybe tomorrow.

I go across the street to AutoZone. VERY NICE man comes out and looks at my car for me and says it’s either a wire to the starter or the starter. He can’t seem to get under the car enough to just whack it and get it to start for me (a comforting thought and all) so I’ll have to have it towed. He suggests I tow it to Pep Boys. We go back to Auto Zone (dodging traffic across the highway like Frogger) and they call Pep Boys. They MIGHT be able to look at it around 8:30.

Trying to get a tow took forever, but finally a very nice kid named Bruce came and towed me the ½ mile to Pep Boys. $64.

Pep Boys will run a diagnostic on it, but if it’s the starter they probably won’t be able to fix it until the morning. Dreadful issue, since I just started a new job and all. Means I’ll have to find someone to rent me a car at this hour and deal with that headache.

Meanwhile, I call my ex, he went to my house, took my dog out and is on his way to meet me at Pep Boys with LM with my cell phone. What a guy! They show up, he is going to take LM to get some dinner, do I want anything (no, I’m too stressed to eat, but thanks) and to call him if I get some information.

Pep Boys establishes it IS the starter and one of the guys says he can put it in right then for me. HALLELUJAH! My ex swings back by and drops off LM after they eat and makes sure that we are good to go before he leaves.

The cost of the new starter: $316. Grand total for the evening: $380.

I got home after 9pm and finally got on the elliptical for my workout at 9:30 (I had some stress to work out). Halfway through the workout, with my new gel inserts and all, my feet hurt worse than ever and now I don’t even have room enough in my shoes to wiggle my toes to TRY to get feeling back in them.) I finish my workout feeling like I’m at a complete loss for how to remedy this issue. Redheads are notorious for bad circulation, but this is ridiculous!!

All things considered, I went to bed feeling so blessed. Blessed for finding that check just when I needed it. Blessed for having a good enough relationship with my ex to have him be so generous with his time, and to help with LM. Blessed for having the car problem resolved last night instead of spilling into today and costing me more money and aggravation. Truly, I am blessed.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

That's The (Lunch) Ticket!

In the conversation I had with LM the other night about issues at lunch, he mentioned kids eating mozzarella cheese sticks at lunch. I exclaimed, “they serve cheese sticks at hot lunch and you’ve never ordered them!?!?” knowing how much LM LOVES cheese sticks. In all his years of elementary school, he has never, not ONCE ordered a school lunch. As we talked about it, he explained that he was the ONLY child who always packs his lunch, and only one other girl is sometimes a ‘packer’.

That night, the February school lunch calendar came home from school, so I handed it to LM and suggest he look it over. I explained that I’d be more than happy to buy him hot lunch if he preferred. So, he looked over the calendar, and asked for a pencil so he could mark the days he wanted school lunch. When he gave the calendar back to me, EIGHT out of EIGHTEEN school days were circled. So we went from none to nearly half!!

LM then had the concern that he doesn’t have a PIN number, which is how you access your account to buy lunch. I assured him we could find out from the school office just how the whole operation worked and he’d be up to speed in no time. I reminded him that his best friend, Will, gets hot lunch everyday (apparently) so he might be a good one to ask. This idea relieved LM tremendously! He made me promise, however, that I would email the school secretary and ask her how to go about it.

I just received a reply from the school secretary. Apparently LM stopped by the office this morning and asked her himself, which is what I had wanted him to do in the first place. She explained the very simple, straightforward process to both of us so we are all set for hot lunch.

I have to say, that as I think about my morning routine of picking our LM’s lunch, it feels like a milestone of sorts that he’s moving on into the more independent school lunch. He keeps reminding me that he’ll be a WHOLE DECADE OLD this May and I think I’m starting to realize all that it means.

Gone are the days where lunch meant yogurt, carrots, string cheese and trail mix. Welcome in Domino’s pizza, cheeseburgers and a taco bar! Do you think I could order school lunch, too?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mom's Secret Ingredient

It was another rough day to be a nine year old yesterday. Over dinner, LM told me his “lows” which included Daniel and Andrew trying to steal the “good stuff” from his lunch. They wanted his Swedish fish and his Sun Chips (can you tell Dad packed his lunch?) They got one fish and gave it to Courtney who promptly and without remorse, ate it. He was devastated. We talked about his options. It turns out they have assigned seats for lunch, so he can’t just move. We talked about quietly and privately approaching his teacher and explaining that these two kids do this everyday and ask to be moved to a different seat in the lunchroom. He thought that might be a good idea. We also talked about how as long as he gets angry and worked up over it, it gives the kids exactly the reaction they are looking for and that will only egg them on further. He seemed to understand that and agreed that just trying to bear it quietly might be a good option, if he couldn’t get moved.

This morning, as I was making his sandwich, I asked what else he wanted in his lunch. We put in a hardboiled egg, a Clementine, applesauce, string cheese and he suggested two mini-3-Muskateer bars. Then he said, “No, Mom, don’t. The boys will just try to take them” and ended the sentence with such a long, forlorn sigh it broke my heart.

I said, “Oh no they won’t! Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to put them in the outside pocket of your lunchbox, so that only when you are ready for them will anyone know you have them. At that point, take one out, open it and LICK IT! I guarantee the boys won’t want it anymore.”

“GREAT IDEA, Mom!!”

See, parenting isn’t so hard after all! Maybe, being nine isn’t so bad, either.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Very Definition of Stupid

If you haven’t seen the article, it’s worth a read, just to remind yourself of how unbelievably dumb some people are. A man faked his own death to avoid paying child support. He had two children and owed $4,120. He escaped from work detail after serving a year in jail for not paying the $4K. He had a family member call authorities and report him DEAD after a bar fight in Alabama.

Here’s where it gets good – for the next 20 years, he lived 150 miles from home, in Myrtle Beach, using his OWN name. He’s been married twice since his disappearance (twice before that) and now has a third child.

One of his ex’s reported him alive and well and he was caught and fingerprinted to prove his identity. He now owes more than $30,000 in child support and will face escape charges to boot.

So, by stupid, I certainly could refer to this man. I mean, that’s just not the brightest plan, but he did get away with it for 20 years.

But seriously, the definition of stupid seems to me to be the local authorities. Did you see a body? Did you have evidence of him actually being dead, or did you just take this anonymous phone call as certain proof? He was technically an escapee! And he moved just 150 miles away and was using his own name. I see how that might be tricky for investigators to catch up with him. Yes indeed, that might warrant an FBI profiler to come in and assist.

Lessons learned: apparently you CAN call in dead. And it DOES work – or will for a number of years. And you don’t even have to change your name or get plastic surgery to avoid capture. Just move a couple hours away is all. But look out for all your ex’s. When you have four of them, one of them might just see you and report you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tidbits

Funny thing. When things are going as smoothly as they have been, I seem to have so very little to write about. To share the details of how wonderful my new job is would perhaps seem snotty, which I don’t ever mean to be. Suffice it to say, it’s night and day better than my last job, and there were a lot of things I loved about my last job (just not my boss). To say LM and I are having a grand time would be an understatement (except for the writing homework we had to conquer this evening). Gabe loves the warmer weather but could do without the rain. I’ll take rain over snow any day of the week. It’s mid-January and I don’t have the winter blahs yet. I’m thinking about teaching myself how to knit. I even ordered a book on the subject – we’ll see if I have the patience for it. LOST returned to tvland tonight. It’s about time, and it was good enough to get me hooked right back in. Sucker that I am. I guess I’m just content as content can be!!

I will try to write something useful, or constructive, or meaningful, or perhaps none of the above soon. Not as if you’re waiting with baited breath, but I’m just saying.

I do hope everyone out there is doing well. UC, I hope you and Mark are finally feeling better. Boogie, I hope you’re back to being the Best Mom Ever instead of the Evil One. Poka, I miss you, as always. Jerk, hope you’re having a great time wherever you are. Figster, well, what can I say? Is it going to be a Bears v. Patriots SuperBowl? Newlywife and I will be cheering for the Pats! Amanda, keep writing. You have so much yet to say that I can’t wait to read! Leah and Simon, enjoy the bikes! Danielle, hope the move went (is going?) well, don’t strain that left hand with all the weight it’s carrying around now! Todd, I hope you’ve adjusted to the new stamps. Katrina, Scott, Trish, Wendy, you guys are awesome! Thanks for entertaining me in such different ways all the time. Gretch, I love the freckles. Of course, having well over a gagillion of them myself, I’d better! Oh my lord, I’m forgetting so many people, I’m trying to remember, but if I left you off, I’m so sorry, I’ll thank you when I win my next Oscar. Oh! Blondie! Nakedness to talk about your mom. Wow. Hope you solved that quandary! Wombat, that’s just one cold proposition! Bearca, welcome! Have some milk and cookies. Gav, good to hear from you – leave some cookies for Bearca (she’s new. We like to impress the newbies!)

Goodnight all!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

It Just Isn't Right

… that after a hard, long workout, when I look in the mirror, I’m still fat.

… that chocolate tastes so good and good-for-me broccoli tastes horrid.

… that a company processes your purchase instantaneously but takes 4-8 weeks to process your refund.

… that football doesn’t last all year long. (Especially for the money they make!)

… that we work five days a week and are off for only two.

… that I have a great humidifier system on my furnace for these cold, dry nights, but if I use it, it leaves water marks on my ceilings and walls.

…that I could solve this problem by adjusting the amount of humidity each day as the temperature changes, but the controls are so high in the utility closet it’s too much of a hassle to make it worthwhile.

… that I’ve had to listen to John Madden (ugh) for all these years and only NOW is ESPN finally stepping up and taking over Monday Night Football.

…that despite all the publicity surrounding MNF’s move from ABC to ESPN, nothing has been said about what’s happening to Sunday Night Football, my favorite time of the week!

… that some of the cutest puppies grow up to be some of the ugliest dogs.

… that the rawhide bones my dog loves so much gives him the runs (and therefore I refuse to give them to him anymore).

…that the pottery class I really want to take locally is offered at 3pm on Mondays.

…that credit card companies can charge 17% interest and my savings account only earns 3%.

…that just about the time I get my favorite shirts/pants broken in and truly comfortable, they wear through and I have to throw them away.

…that people find my blog searching for answers regarding Suzy Kolber’s sexual orientation but never in regard to Chris Berman’s.

…that my car can go over a hundred miles an hour, but I’m not permitted to by law.

…that my cousin retired this year at the age of 36 (professional sports player). (In all honesty, he’s a great guy and deserves all of God’s blessings!)
…that some of us who were very close to our moms don’t have them with us anymore and some people have their mom and don’t even speak to her.

…that my 200 pound dog is afraid of my 10 pound cat.

… that my nine year old son knows how to cook better than my 26 year old brother.

… that I bought a little rug for Gabe to lay on instead of wearing out one spot in the carpet, and now he lays elsewhere.

…that despite having a bachelor’s degree, I cannot for the life of me, use ‘lay’ or ‘lie’ correctly.

…that I spent more money, time, effort and emotion on my brother’s Christmas gift and he’s the only person from whom I will not receive a Thank You.

…that some of my favorite blogs aren’t updated very often.

…that I’d rather be home on a Saturday night, watching the Patriots play and updating my blog than to be out at the bar.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Shocking Truths Revealed - Or At Least Something Revealed

I have, up until now, considered myself to be a pretty well put together girl. I was at least intelligent enough to get myself through college (although perhaps not so intelligent as to decide a private education was worth paying for- for years); I am attractive enough that I was once married, although since he has since decided men are this thing, perhaps we ought not really consider that any sort of proof; I have thus far, successfully raised a healthy, smart, witty child (give him time, he'll abandon his upbringing yet); I have secured for myself a good job and a home of my own; and I have been able to keep 3 pets and 50 household plants alive for years (give or take a few - plants, that is, not pets!) All in all, I'd say the report on Amy is a pretty good one.

Until today.

I had no idea I was so flawed until today when I finally came to terms with it all. I have been in denial. I have been casting blame elsewhere when in fact it is all me. I AM TO BLAME!!

It's true. Shocking, I know, but true. Perhaps I should have told you to sit down before you read this. Are you sitting? Good, then.

You see, I had thought all along that it was my choice in fashions that was to blame. That for the life of me, I simply was incapable of picking out the right shirt. But tested over time I realize it's not the shirts that are to blame. No! No! So then, I carefully deducted it was actually my undergarment - my bra, to be exact, that was to blame. Yes! Surely this was the answer! But, alas, again no, with experiments of all kinds, with years of testing and reporting, it is neither my shirt nor my brassiere that is to blame.

I have a faulty left shoulder.

Sigh.

There, I've said it. I've said it aloud and I've typed it down for all to see and acknowledge. Hi. My name is Amy. I have a faulty left shoulder.

By all appearances, it looks as good as my right. Not to say it would stand out in a crowd or be showcased in a centerfold for Most Spectacular Shoulder of the Year, but nonetheless, it does not immediately strike you as faulty. It's functional, certainly. It has a full range of motion. It fits into shirt-sleeves just fine. The problem, the fault, the horrific irregularity is that I cannot under any circumstances, with any shirt or any bra, I cannot keep my bra strap on my left shoulder! I am forever reaching into my shirt to pull my strap back onto my shoulder. In my estimation, I probably do this over 10 times a day. How many times do I have to adjust the right strap? NEVER!! Never, not once, not in a blue moon, not in a red sea. I never have to adjust my right strap. Only the left one.

I have tightened the strap. I have tried different bras. I have worn different shirts. I have held my left arm up over my head for the duration of the day (okay, not that last one) but to no avail!!

T'is true, people. I am faulty. I expect I shall be asked for a refund or at the very least a reduction in resale value.

I hope that people will not hold this against me as I go forth in life.



I wonder, however, can I at least get a handicap sticker for my car?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

All That's Good

Today, at my new job, the office manager handed me a list she had been working on of things she thought I needed for my office. The list was maybe 10 items long. It came along with three office supply catalogs with corresponding pages tabbed. I looked down the list and was stunned at some of the things she had jotted down. I have a desk in my office, a standard, L-shaped office desk. I have a computer. A fast, nice, fancy computer. I have a phone with multiple lines and all kinds of buttons that aren’t labeled. I even have a set of shelves, with nothing on them. What more could I need? Well, she thinks I need a computer workstation, for starters. A computer on my desk is NOT the right height ergonomically. Oooookay. AND I’ll need another desk chair, apparently. One is not enough. People will be coming into my office and sitting down. They will need a chair. But there’s that conference room-type chair over there – I said. No, no no. That will never do. She led me down the hall and had me sit in some guy’s chair. Don’t you love that one? Well, yes, it’s nice… well then, that settles it, we’ll order that one. And how about a filing cabinet? Lateral or drawer style? Um, do I have things to file?! Um, no, not really…. Then can we pass on that? Well, for nooooowwwww….but you’ll definitely need a shredder. Everyone has one. Everyone has their OWN shredder? Why, of course! And a bulletin board, and a floor lap (fluorescent lighting is horrible on your eyes!) and on and on it went. At the end of the day, I think my list of “needs” as determined not only by the office manager, but also by several people on staff, totaled somewhere around $500. Holy cripes! I wasn’t even allowed to ask for a stapler before!!

I spent the latter part of my afternoon installing and watching the tutorial on Adobe Creative Suite 2. SO COOL!!! I’m certain I can’t quite afford this on my own just yet, but dang could I seriously make cool publications for people with this product!

The people at my job are so nice, many have stopped in just to say hi and introduce themselves. The benefits are incredible. Salary is the best I’ve had yet. They have made me feel so welcome, and made me understand that they want me there for a long time and are willing to provide me with the sort of workplace that will keep me there for years. I’m so glad I was given this opportunity!!

I drove home in the rain, noticing it wasn’t quite as dark at 5 as it had been just a couple weeks ago. Gabe was thrilled to see me as always, and his excitement always makes coming home such a fun time of day. There was a letter from my grandma in the mail and a notice that an account I closed had a credit balance of a few hundred dollars on it that they will be sending to me within 30 days. LM’s package arrived from Amazon, the cd and books he ordered with a Christmas gift card. I put some laundry in, took my favorite warm snuggly clothes out of the dryer and put them on, still a little warm. I ate some leftovers for dinner that took less than 5 minutes to prepare. And now I’ve plopped myself on the couch, gearing up for Penn State football tonight. I have a new book by Virginia Woolf on my coffee table to read, my favorite candles (pomagranate) burning and my new soft, down throw over my lap while I wait for the game.

Tell me, how can life get any better than this?