Friday, December 29, 2006

A New Baby

LM has a new cousin!! Ethan Simeon was welcomed into this world just a short while ago. Ethan's mom, LM's Aunt Mandy (on his dad's side) is doing well, despite an emergency C-section.

We wish Mandy, her husband Jake and little Ethan all the best!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I Hereby Resolve

Perusing blogs this morning, I’m already seeing mention of “resolutions”. I have been thinking about this for awhile. I’m all about fresh starts and making changes (I just rearranged the living room last night) and the like, but this year, I’ve decided that I’m going to focus on ONE resolution and I want it to be something that is really meaningful to me. I hope to continue the other things that are important too, getting healthy, giving more than receiving, saving more money, making family a focus, blah, blah, blah. But, for me in 2007, it boils down to this:

I aim to only talk on the phone when I can focus all my attention on the caller.

There. Bold. Revolutionary. Original.

You see, with all of my family and friends scattered about and far away, there are many people in my life that I am very close to that I only speak with on the phone. But I talk while in the car, I talk while watching football, I talk while loading the dishwasher, I talk while fixing dinner, I talk but without giving the person my full attention and I think that’s impacted some of my relationships. I think I need to spend more time focused on the person I’m talking with and my conversations will surely be a) shorter, b) more interesting and c) I think I’ll walk away having felt like I had good fellowship with a person instead of just chit chat all the time. I've said before that I'm a "quality time" person, and I have started to feel as though the time I give to those I love isn't very good "quality" anymore.

So, there it is. My one resolution. It may mean I answer my phone less. I may have to decline to talk until I can finish what I was doing and create a window of focused time, but I’m hoping the people on the other end of the line might notice the difference and might feel more cherished, more respected, certainly more important to me than I have perhaps demonstrated in the past.

If you’re one of my calls in 2007, I hope you’ll have a better sense of how important you are to me. Cause you are. Unless, of course, you're trying to sell me something.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

With 364 Days to Plan Ahead

Today, while LM hung out with me at work, I realized his dad never called him on Christmas. It's not a huge deal, I thought, he'll see his dad Wednesday evening, but still, I can't imagine not talking to my son on a major holiday. Within the hour, my cell phone rang and LM came to the office where I was, talking with his dad on the cell. They spoke for a few minutes and then he handed the phone to me. His dad had forgotten what arrangements we had made for swapping LM mid-week. I reminded him that I was bringing LM to work on Wednesday and my ex was picking him up from my office (which was a courtesy to my ex, since work is much closer to him than my house is). He asked if we could change that. He hadn't realized his significant other was off work on Wednesday (I thought he was going to ask to have LM sooner) and so they'd like to do their Christmas shopping on Wednesday. I wasn't certain what this translated into for my purposes until he said, "Could I just pick him up on Thursday instead?"

I told him that was fine, I have never had a problem with having more of LM's time. Before I could put too much thought into the idea that my ex postphoned seeing his son over the holidays because he had SHOPPING to do, he asked if I would put LM back on the phone. "I'd like to ask him what he got from you yesterday," he said. Well, that'd be a nice gesture, to actually ask LM how his Christmas was...but my ex continued, "so I don't duplicate anything."

In simple terms:

Despite being after Christmas, my ex postphoned getting his son for the holiday by an entire day so that he could get his Christmas shopping done, including the gifts he is getting for LM. (I made sure to tell him what I've already purchased for LM's birthday in May (I'm not that prepared, it's just extra from Christmas) just so he doesn't go out and buy that.)

I should note that when I found out that LM hadn't purchased ANYTHING for the people on my ex's side of the family (despite the need to get the gifts shipped to Florida in time for the holiday) I helped him create a list of ideas for all seven people and together we purchased four of the gifts.

I guess I won't hold my breath that LM's presents will be wrapped.

Update: at 4:55pm, my ex called me while out shopping. "What size shoe does LM wear?" I could wager a guess, but I'm just not certain why I need to help his shopping at this point. "I think you'd want to have him with you to try them on," I suggested. "Oh, okay, nevermind then. Thanks." Christmas shoes, apparently, are all the rage with 10 year old boys.

Shuffle

In the parking lot of the post office today, I heard a song pouring out of a truck nearby and immediately found myself singing along, thinking, "wow, I haven't heard this song in forever!" Tonight, as I set up an itunes account and plugged in my new ipod shuffle to charge, I found myself purchasing two songs from itunes that I knew I had to have. The first song to initiate my ipod experience, the one I heard in the parking lot that had been stuck in my head all day, "Love of a Lifetime" by Firehouse. The second, "Missing" by Everything But the Girl, a song I have loved for years but never wanted the whole album.

For those of you way ahead of me, who've had ipods for years now, or those new to the techno scene like me, what was the first song you downloaded to your ipod? For 2007, I thought I'd track what's new on my ipod over on my sidebar. I'm always looking for recommendations!

Fantasy Football

Congratulations to Amy, the owner of AmysBoys. She is the company's 2006 fantasy football champion.

Steven Jackson's monster of a game (150 yds rushing, 102 yds receiving, 2 TDs) helped AmysBoys edge out M's team. AmysBoys won the championship in quite a convincing fashion. First, she disposed of the Philadelphia Eagles... err S's team, who was on quite a rebound after plummeting from 1st to 6th place. S stuck with the Eagles and finished 4th in the regular season. Next, AmysBoys faced the regular-season champion who completely dominated the league. R meticulously put together a winning team that was undefeated until the final week of the regular season. Finally, for the championship, AmysBoys faced M. M had the hottest team in the league coming into the championship game with a 9-game winning streak. In the end, Amy came out on top, beating the 4th, 2nd, and 1st seeds.

(As written by our fantasy football league manager.)

YIPPEE!!

Now I can go back to cheering for the team that matters most - GO PATRIOTS!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry CHRISTmas Everyone!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and that the true reason for the season is embraced and celebrated!! There is no gift greater than the gift God gave to the world on that first Christmas!

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

In Unexpected Places

LM and I went out to dinner tonight. Our little holiday dinner without the crowds and before it got totally insane in the next week or two. As the waitress approached the table she looked at me and said, "I know you. How do I know you?" I looked at her and had no bells of recognition going off. I smiled and said I wasn't sure. She was intent on figuring out who I was, but was polite enough about it. She took our drink order and came back asking if I had attended a local college, I told her no, I hadn't. She kept saying she knew me somehow and it would bug her until she could figure it out. I told her I didn't live in that town, we lived a couple over, and she just shook her head and said, "I know you somehow." I didn't recognize her name and she didn't seem to recognize mine and I was content with moving on but she was bothered enough that she wanted to figure it out. LM and I had a good conversation as we waited for our dinner, talking about our days and the holidays coming up.

Our waitress came over ahead of the meals and said words I hadn't heard in months, "You're Gabe's mom!" It took me a minute to figure out what she had even said and then all the lights went on. She owned a black lab, named slider, and we used to see each other frequently at the dog park. She said she hadn't seen us there in a long while and I had to explain that we no longer owned Gabe. I had to listen as Jacob told about how we took him to a new family in Indiana and I realized that he never learned about the move Gabe made from that family to his new home in southern Ohio. We were thrilled to finally have resolution to the mystery and she showed us Christmas pictures she had taken with her dog.

As she left our table to get our dinners I wanted to cry. I fought it with all I could but I missed Gabe and the bark park and even Slider so much at that point I wasn't sure I was going to make it through dinner. LM talked about how much he wishes we had a dog, a big dog, a 'Gabe dog'. Just this morning at the post office, I had met a beautiful, old, golden retriever named Tim, who was at the post office with his owner helping out during the holiday rush. And now, to be thinking about Gabe, it was more than I could take today.

Now that I am home, and LM in tucked away in bed, I am snuggled up on the couch with tears streaming down my face as I think about how much I miss my dog. I could really go for those big brown eyes tonight.

"And I heard a sound coming from the heavens; it sounded like angels singing..."

I don't particularly like our new guest pastor at church. He tries too hard to be funny. He makes assumptions about the congregation and then seems shocked when they are wrong ("How many farmers do we have today?" "None?! I thought this was the country!") He acts as if we should replace our projection system because he can't get the remote to work for his powerpoint presentation. He once stopped a sermon for two very long minutes while a woman tried desperately to turn off her two-way radio. She was the bus driver for the urban children's group we had visiting us for the day. She was mortified and embarrassed and he made it 100% worse for her.

This was the first Sunday in two weeks we've been at church. I am still fighting this cold something awful and spent most of the Sunday School hour trying not to sniffle too much, but trying not to blow my nose too loudly, either. My pocketbook is full of tissues, old and new, and cough drops. I was grateful for the singing during the church service so I could blow my nose and save the people in front of me several long minutes of listening to me sniffle.

Just as the guest pastor, Dr. H., started his sermon, my cell phone rang. I normally turn it off for the service, and even if I forget, there's normally a visual reminder before the service starts on the announcements they project. But there hadn't been a reminder, and I had been so concerned with my cold and my sniffling that I had totally forgotten about my phone. The good news is that is was nestled in my pocketbook amongst all the tissues and such which kept is mostly muffled. The bad news is that being buried as such, it was nearly impossible to find to shut off quickly. I did finally find it in there amongst the Kleenex and shut it off. I am certain my face was crimson, although I tried to remain calm and collected. I'm fairly sure there were few in the congregation who even knew where the sound came from. As I regained my senses and looked ahead at Dr. H., I realized he had stopped speaking and was trying to figure out the sound. He said, "I guess that was someone's cell phone?" and paused as if I would apologize in the middle of his sermon (I held my tongue; sorry as I was, I wasn't about to speak during the sermon.) He went on with things, not knowing exactly where the disturbance had come from.

And at that moment, I silently said a prayer of gratitude for my choice in cell phone ring tones. However inappropriate to have it ring during the service, at least my phone played the "Hallelujah Chorus".

Sunday, December 17, 2006

400 New Pets

On Friday afternoon, I received an email from LM's teacher. Mrs. B. wanted to know if it would be okay if LM brought home some "specimen" they had been looking at in science class with their microscopes. Knowing how excited LM had been about the volvox arriving in his classroom earlier in the week, I knew he would be estatic to bring the little single-celled organisms home to view on his own and granted permission without hesitation.

LM arrived home with a tiny little vial with little green specs inside and proclaimed himself the proud owner of approximately 400 new 'pets'. He carried the vial around with him from room to room, looking at it under the lights, tipping it this way and that to see the little green dots swimming around. There was no need for the gifts I had placed under the tree, he was already over the moon with this gift from his teacher.

As Sunday night bedtime rolled around, LM came out of his room fighting back tears. I pulled him next to me on the couch and asked what was the matter. "I'm afraid the volvox are dying" he sobbed. He thought the house might be too cold, or maybe they weren't getting enough sunlight, but he was certain they shouldn't be at the bottom of the vial like they were. We moved the vial under a lamp on his dresser and we googled "how to care for volvox" to find the appropriate temperature (although I did stress I wasn't raising the thermostat for 400 micro-organisms.) I suggested he ask his teacher tomorrow if she knew how to care for them. He said he hoped tomorrow was the last day they were looking at the volvox in science because Mrs. B. had said he could bring more home if no one else in his class wanted them. He was hoping to bring home another vial of tiny green dots.

I tucked him in and kissed him goodnight and checked on the tiny vial under his reading lamp. These 400 micro-organisms don't even have a brain or a heart to know how much this little ten year old boy loves them.

Of Things That Hurt

Little Bird called me yesterday. "Aunt Fred! Aunt Fred!! I got my ears pierced!! And it only hurt for a second!!"

I knew she was getting her ears pierced, it had been one of her birthday gifts for her 10th birthday. I had spoken with her about it while we were on the cruise and I knew she was looking forward to it when she got back home.

What I wasn't prepare for were the tears. Of mine. I sat in my car and sobbed. Because I miss her. Because I should have been there. Because my Little Bird, my favorite and only niece is growing up while I am far, far away. I do not want to miss these moments. I want to be in Michigan.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Six Word Memoir

I’ve been giving thought to the idea of the “six word memoir”, perhaps too much thought. I’m finding it difficult to determine what I think defines my life. Certainly I was married and then divorced, but does that define my life? Perhaps in some regard, yes. In others, I hope not. If so, can I aptly convey my divorce as a positive thing? Certainly being a mother plays a significant role (one would hope) in defining who you are, but shouldn’t be limiting. This is tricky.

In some ways, I feel as though my memoir might read:

“Jerry Springer called. I hung up.”

In others, I feel it might read:

“Liberated by divorce; graced with child.”

Perhaps:

“Saved by God, more than once.”

Or:

“Opened husband’s closet. Single is better.”

Or:

“If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.”

Or perhaps what I’d like it to read:

“Life gave artichokes. I made lemonade.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Child, My Sweet, Sweet, Child

I was sicker than a dog yesterday. Only because I had promised, and because LM was convinced all the good Christmas trees were taken while we were on the cruise did I venture out at all into the world yesterday. By 9 pm, with Monday Night Football on in the background, I collapsed from exhaustion on the couch, falling into a sleep deeper than I had slept in months.

I woke at 12:30am in a panic. Where was LM? Who put him to bed? Was he okay? Was the house locked? Were the lights off? I saw a note on the coffee table, next to my sleepy head that read:

"Goodnight, Mom. I'm in bed and have: brushed, gargeld, clearasilled and anything else. LM. P.S. XOXOXOXOXOXOXOO"

This morning, when I apologized profusely for falling so dead asleep, LM said, "it's okay, Mom, you weren't feeling well. I saw the time on the clock and so I shut off my game and got ready for bed. I didn't want you to worry."

Oh how I love this child. With every ounce that is in me, I love him. But for the grace of God, and in spite of my parenting, sometimes children exceed all the hopes we could ever have for them. Oh how I love this child of mine.

Cruise Pics

(There are actually two children that do not belong to our family getting their picture taken with Mickey and Pluto at this moment, but since our kids were too scared, this was the shot I got!)

My dad and step mom who made the cruise possible. Thanks so much to you both! What a wonderful time with all our family (well, minus one!)

This was our boat as we approached the harbor.

Luckily, this was not our boat.

My favorite moments from the cruise were spent watching the sun rise over the ocean every morning at 6am.

My brother G, wistfully missing his new girlfriend.
Or was he puking over the edge? Hmm...hard to tell...


Swimming was the second best part of the cruise for LM.


We had to travel into international waters for my family to play ping pong. (In the background, you can see my dad playing my brother G, in the foreground is my sister and George playing against an unseen Bear.)


There was a beer tasting. I was there as the Designated Walker - My stepsister, Bear, brother, G, and stepbrother all represented the Midwest Drinkers Association well.


It's hard to see, but LM is actually standing below this television screen (in front of a pool). We watched Monday Night Football poolside with drinks in hand. Ahhh...does it get any better?

Castaway Cay held lots of wonders, including Captain Jack Sparrow's Flying Dutchman
(from the movie!!)
Docked at Castaway, waiting to parasail
(which, unfortunately, never happened due to inclement weather!)

On the island, there was swimming by those brave enough to face the cooooold cold water!

K hunted seashells.

Little Bird took a break after snorkeling.

Annie braided Little Bird's hair.

LM's favorite part of the cruise? Feeding the sting rays. It was really awesome!

George, keeping warm after a swim.

Little Bird was primarily interested in autographs from princesses, but she occasionally made an exception. A man with a hook can be very persuasive!

Pirate Night at Dinner. Shuby rocked as a pirate! (Shuby (my step brother's son) got his nickname for responding with a confident and cheerful "Sh'You Betcha!" anytime he was asked something!)

LM and Captain Jack Sparrow.

All you can eat ice cream 24/7 was a BIG hit with George and A.

My type-A personality, can't sit still for a minute, daquiri drinking but in denial ("Boy these smoothies are awesome for not having any alcohol!") sister, Jules.

After the cruise we stayed at the Nickelodeon Hotel and met SpongeBob! (You can just feel LM's excitement, can'tcha?)
LM did stand underthe slime waterfall.

We played mini-golf, although Dad cheated by taking in a practice round before we started and Jules claimed we didn't keep score (is she related to us?! Not keep score?! Are you kidding?!)

How could anyone have a bad time around a face like this?

Time to sail away home.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back

2 Flights from Newark, NJ to Orlando, FL: $400
Souvenirs, sting ray adventure and miscellaneous cruise costs: $300
one week long vacation with 14 family members: priceless



Leaving 70 degree weather for 20 degree weather: sucks
Coming home from vacation with a horrible sinus infection: sucks
confirmation of resolution with DirectTV in the mail: PRICELESS
waking up to find my downstairs neighbor MOVING OUT: UNBELEIVABLE!!! YIPPEE!!


(Pictures and details from the cruise to follow as soon as I recover from this nasty cold. I promise!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ode to Wawa

When there’s nothing in your fridge ‘cept for lettuce and an apple, go to Wawa.
When you car is low on gas or your thirstin’ for a Snapple, go to Wawa.
Lookin’ for a hoagie, veggie wrap or just some soup, go to Wawa.
Doesn’t matter if you’re dressed in your pj’s or a suit, go to Wawa.

Cheerful, fresh and tasteful, it’s got 7-Eleven beat, that’s our Wawa.
Forgot your lunch or need a snack, it’s kept both clean and neat, that’s our Wawa.
Cup of joe, pack of smokes, Ben & Jerry’s or a Coke, that’s our Wawa,
They’ve got everything you need, just fill ‘er up and go, that’s our Wawa.

But be careful there, dear Pilgrim, don’t lose focus when you go,
There might be someone in the aisles whose face you used to know.
The one who was a smoker and a friend of a not-quite friend,
The one who let his kids be kings without some discipline.

“I wuv my wittle smoochie pie” he’d say each time you kissed.
And talk about vacationing as if you might get hitched.
You only dated once or twice, you had no real attraction,
His smoking and his baby talk were two really big infractions.

It wasn’t going to work, there was no chemistry to last,
He took it hard and told you off, said you were living in the past.
He blamed it on your ex, said it was time you just moved on,
But it was really all his issues that made you wish him gone.

But as you ordered lunch today (with onions, peppers and tomato)
You saw a face that looked like his, but your brain just didn’t know.
Was it? Is it? Could it be? (You never know who’s lurking).
It’s him with a pack of cigarettes (he never did quite give up smoking).

It’s fight or flight (just like UC), but it’s an easier decision,
You have no desire to see this man or to start a conversation.
You pay for lunch, you scan the room, and look for a quick way out,
Without being seen you’ve reached the door, you’d like to scream and shout.

The next time that you’re hungry, or looking for some grub,
You’ll reconsider your options, and find a place to sub.
For while it is a heaven on earth and full of tasty treats,
Our Wawa isn’t safe anymore, I need a new retreat!