Sunday, September 30, 2007

One Word

Friday evening we spent at my sister's. LM enjoyed hanging out with the cousins and we all enjoyed some pizza and some down time after our busy weeks. When we arrived back home, LM sat quietly on the couch not doing anything - a rarity for my boy. I asked what he was thinking about.

"Nothing."

With my motherly intuition tuned in, I replied, "I don't believe you. What's on your mind?"

"Nothing."

I decided to make a game of it, hoping to extract whatever was causing him so much deep contemplation.

"How about we play 20 Questions and see if I can guess it?"

LM agreed, chuckling despite his pensive mood.

1. Is it an activity? NO
2. Is it about a person? Yes
3. Is it about a specific person or just people in general? (LM asked me to clarify the question. I said, "For instance, I could just be thinking about when I might have another great date, or I might be thinking about when I might have a great date with Tom Brady. Oh, he said, sort of a specific person.)
4. Are you thinking about seeing if D or E can play with you tomorrow? NO
6. Are you thinking about your George or Bird? NO
7. Are you thinking about kids at school? NO
8. Are you thinking about your dad? NO
9. Are you thinking about your grandparents? NO
10. Are you thinking about Eli? NO (he laughed and reminded me that Eli is not a person)
11. I guess I don't need to ask if it's about Jonah, then, huh? NO
12. Are you thinking about W, your best friend in PA? NO
13. Okay, LM I'm running out of ideas, can I get a hint?

LM left the room, I thought the conversation was over and I wasn't going to find out what was on his mind. I decided to drop the topic and make a mental note to try to bring it up another time. LM returned to the room a few minutes later and flew a paper airplane into my lap and then ran into his bedroom.

After spending an evening playing with George and Bird, laughing, eating pizza, fighting and reluctantly leaving, LM's paper airplane contained the following message:

"One word: Brother"


Oh, LM, if only it were so simple to give you one.

The Office

Last week LM made a portion of his room into an office. He has paper, an adding machine, pencils, calculator and an in box. All the things necessary for good office management.

Seeing the "In" box, I was prompted to write him a letter - I hate to not play along. It's not as if I can leave it up to his siblings to engage in his playfulness.

"Dear Sir: I would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience regarding a top secret topic that shall not be discussed in any way on paper. I am available most evenings, however, this Thursday I have a prior obligation that is of the utmost importance to me (LM's school Open House). Perhaps, if your busy schedule would allow, we might meet on Friday sometime after 7pm? Please let me know if this would work for you. I appreciate your urgency and confidentiality in this matter. Best regards, Ms. Mom"

"Ms. Mom: Thank you for your letter. I am available on Friday, at 8 o'clock. This is the ONLY TIME that I am available on that date after 7pm. I am sorry if this is an inconvenience to you. If you need to re-scedual, please notify my appointment manager, Eli on Howls (our nickname for the dog), or send me a reply. Thank you. LM, President."

"Mr. LM: 8pm on Friday evening will suit me just fine. I appreciate your temily and professional response and attention to this matter. As I previously mentioned, the topic for discussion is highly sensitive and must remain strictly confidential. I will fill you in on any pertinent details at our meeting. Until that time, I would wish only to know what your billable rates might be and what methods of payment are acceptable. Please let me know. If you have anything further to ask or need any other information before Friday, please do not hesitate to contact me. I may be reached through my personal assistant, Jonah v. Whale. Best regards, Ms. Mom, CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, UFO, VCR, PhD of the Mother Institute of Parental Influence."

We had our meeting last Friday, and discussed LM's current list of chores and had a discussion about raising his allowance.

This week, the following letter appeared on my bed.

"Ms. Mom: I have heard that you have recently made a batch of your locally famous apple sause. I was wondering if it might be possible to obtain a jar of it for personal reasons. Please respond at your earliest convineance to discuss delivery. Sincerly, LM, CEO and President of Kid ConFed Org."

"Dear Sir: We at MomsGreatFoods.com appreciate your inquire into our fine selection of homemade products. We are currently producing our seasonal specialties: applesauce and strapplesauce. While we would love to provide you with a fresh batch for your personal enjoyment, we are well aware of the desire of our competitors to obtain our Top Secret recipe. While we in no way mean to suggest or accuse you of trying to obtain this secret recipe, we must nontheless remain cautionary in our response. After conferring with my Director of All Things Confidential, Mr. J. Cat, we have decide to extend to you and your company the invitation to enjoy fresh applesauce during Sunday dinner at our headquarters in Southwest Michigan. We hope this agreement is favorable to you. We look forward to seeing you around 7pm tomorrow evening. Best regards, M.s Mom, CEO, CFO, Head Chef, MomsGreatFoods.com"

"Ms. Mom: Thank you for your prompt reply and the invataion to your dinner, wich we accept. However, though I understand your caution, I can assure you that I have nether the motivation nor the means to discover your seceret recipe, wich, mind you, you have already shared with me. I wish only to acquire ONE jar of your Ida Red applesause (TM). Thank you for your time, LM, CEO and President of Kid ConFed."

"Dear Sir: I hope that you enjoyed your sample of MomsGreatFoods.com seasonal strapplesauce this evening at our Midwest headquarters. I am aware that a list of ingredients was shared with you; please be assured that knowing the precise proportions and cooking methods is critical to producing the best strapplesauce (strawberry applesauce) ever produced in this household. I am, therefore, unable to share that information with you at this time. I have, however, checked with my Assistant of Production, Mr. Joe Nah, who took inventory of our supply and noted that with the purchase of more than 145 pounds of apples from the orchard and the production of over 20 quart-sized jars of sauce, he assures me we will have more than enough to meet the demands of our clients. I can, therefore, at this time, extend to you ONE jar of MomsGreatFoods.com 2007 Strapplesauce made with Michigan Ida Red apples. Please accept this gift on behalf of all the employees of our company. We hope to continue to build and grow our business relationship with you for years to come. Best regards, Ms. Mom, CEO, CFO and exhausted Head Chef of MomsGreatFoods.com"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Temp

So this temping thing, if nothing else, is at least allowing me to sample jobs I know I'll never want on a permanent basis. Last week I worked in a law firm as a "Legal Assistant". Not having ANY legal background whatsoever made this a particularly interesting assignment, but I learned a few things and that's what counts right? Here's what I took away from that experience:

1. I am so glad my divorce was so amicable and that we used a mediator instead of dueling lawyers. Reading an email from a woman trying to put herself through college who was agast at her $15,000 lawyer bill, as she tried to understand how she had to pay $220 an hour for her lawyer to try to recover $3000 from her ex husband, well, it had me furious for her.

2. I don't want to work in an office where all the clients are mad. This law office specialized in divorce and employment law. Everyone was either breaking off a relationship (at great financial cost) or was recently fired.

3. I'm not a coffee drinker but I would have had to become one if I stayed any longer. They had the COOLEST coffee maker from Green Mountain - it made individual cups of coffee in all different flavors. Even me, a non-coffee drinker, could make a client a perfect cup o' Joe!
4. I'm sure there's a reason for legal-ese, but I don't know what it is. Can't we write up a complaint without "wherefore's" "hereto's" and so forth?





Today and tomorrow I'm working at a sales office for a Section 8 apartment complex. OH.MY.

First of all, there are three people in the office and I don't think any of them have worked there longer than 4 months. The people who used to work there NEVER filed (which is why I'm there). The office people are so amazed with the speed at which I finished work today they aren't sure what to do with me tomorrow but want me to come back anyway. hey, it's your dime! What I've learned:

1. I'm so grateful that I have at least enough $$ to NOT live in that complex.

2. I'm so glad my complaints thus far have been a loud neighbor, carpet that smells like cat pee and shelves that fall out of the refrigerator and NOT roaches, mice and drug dealers.

3. One of the women in the office, a young, tiny little thing just started working there on Monday. I knew here for all of a couple of hours today when she got up from the desk we were working at and walked into her supervisor's office and asked if pantyhose were a requirement. Her boss said, no, it's a fairly casual environment (as if you couldn't tell that by just looking around) and the girl promptly returned to her desk WHERE I WAS SITTING and reached up under her skirt (not a long skirt, either) and removed her pantyhose. She sat back down and laughed and said she felt remarkably better. I cannot imagine how much alcohol I would have to consume before I would EVER dream of taking off underthings in front of ANYONE let alone a complete stranger.



While I am certainly looking forward to regular, full-time employment with benefits and retirement plans and vacation days, temping has its perks - and not all of them come in paycheck form!

Sparks - The Choice

I read Nicholas Sparks' latest novel, The Choice, in a quick evening read a couple nights ago. I remembered that it was coming out, but then doubted the library would have such a new release. I was delightfully surprised to see that they did and that it was available.

I won't say much about the book. If you've read Sparks before, it's another good, typical, quick read. If you haven't read Sparks but enjoy an easy, sweet, romantic, sentimental, moral but not too dry book, try one. I've read all of his, my favorites are still Message in a Bottle and The Notebook (the books are better than the movies!)

Now I'm on to a book recommended to me by my second mom called "Girl in Hyacinth Blue". I'll give a review when I finish that one.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Can You Use A Coupon?

I was reading a brochure that listed local classes and activities offered by the park district. I noticed a listing for a cheap ceramics class but my enthusiasm was quickly squelched when I saw the class was offered on Wednesdays from 9-noon or noon-2pm. "Do they think that people just don't work?!" I sighed.

"Yep," replied LM. "They think only the husbands work and the wives stay home all day."

"Ahh, a husband," I said. "Where do you suppose I could get us one of those?"

"At WalMart," said LM confidently, without missing a single beat.

"They sell husbands at WalMart?" I asked doubtfully.

"Yep. In the furniture section."

"They sell husbands in the furniture section at WalMart? I'm not so certain I would want a husband from WalMart, but I just can't believe they've sold them there all these years and I had no idea. Are you certain? WalMart? Really?"

LM left the breakfast table and headed to his bedroom. He emerged with his big reading pillow, which he years ago he learned to refer to as a "husband" by his best friend. "Yes, Mom. They sell husbands (reading pillows) in the furniture section at WalMart."

LM. Oh, that boy thinks he's soooo clever. Wherever does he get that sarcastic, dry sense of humor from? Oh, right. Nevermind.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Michigan Pay Rate

Yesterday, I received my first paycheck from the temp agency I'm working for. I commented to LM that it wasn't much, but it was nice to see money coming in for a change of pace. He asked how much it was for. "$14.52" I answered. LM looked up from his dinner, stunned.

"What?! Do those people pay you like two cents an hour or something?!?"

I had to laugh. "No, LM. This check is for the brief training I went to last week, not for the full week of work I'm currently doing."

Man, we knew the cost of living was a bit lower in Michigan but two cents an hour?!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tidbits

We've been in the state for what, three weeks and already we're trying to con them out of money. (What?! Like you haven't done it?!) We now live in the land of the great dime-back-for-every-soda-can (although I think it's only if you call it "pop"). LM and I took a sack (Hey! I'm back in the Midwest, I can say 'sack' again!) full of empty soda cans and faced the huge mechanism at the back of the grocery store that supposedly recycled the aluminum and spat out a nifty little receipt to give us our deposit money back. Only...some of our cans...were PA cans...that don't have a deposit on them. BUT THE MACHINE TOOK THEM ANYWAY. So, we made perhaps an extra buck. WOOHOO!!! (Hey, it's the small things when you're broke! Besides, I have to try to make up for that ticket I got!)

LM commented tonight that he's noticed somethings to be different since we moved here. One: there is cultural diversity. Where we lived in PA, well, the only black people were those who had spent too much time at the shore...okay, not quite, but seriously, I think LM went to school with ONE non-white child. Now, LM is the MINORITY.

He also commented that people don't say, "I was just kiddin' " They say, "I was just playin' " A big difference in an 11 year old's vernacular. And they don't sigh exactly, they do this clicking thing with their mouth, apparently.

I commented that it wasn't until I was watching Monday Night Football (the game was in Philly) that I realized, "wait a minute, we aren't in Philly anymore...) That's why they call me "Flash."

Other perks? It takes me 10 minutes to get to my job. (I know, I'm temping, but STILL!) There are college kids EVERYWHERE (at the market, there were three men and a cart. The cart contained: four frozen pizza, five loaves of bread and beer.)

Wow, whaddya know, sit down to blog and I post THREE TIMES. And I had nothing to say. Now, go to Newly's blog and beg for pictures of her itty, will ya?

Heaven Is...

...A phone call from dear friends coming to visit from Chicago. We were thrilled to tag along on their annual visit to the apple orchard.
...Watching LM dote on the adorable girls.
...Eating apples right off the tree.
...Free samples and smiles!
...Did I mention eating right from the tree?
...Juice running down your chin.

..The Pumpkin Patch! Hooray!

...Despite being early in the season, being allowed to take home a little pumpkin of your choosing.

...Being able to carry a pumpkin all.by.myself!

...Babies. Heaven is babies.

...Spending time on the deserted beach.

...Celebrating Love.

...An amazing day spent with amazing friends.

Open House

LM and I had the honor to attend Bird and George's school open house last week. It was EXACTLY the sort of reason I wanted to live close to family. We we toured through the Early Elementary building by George and the Later Elementary building by Bird. Thanks to both for a fantastic night and a wonderful glimpse into their every day lives in 1st and 5th grades!

George's Desk




Look at how fast George can do the monkey bars!!


George's Building



Bird's Building

Bird. In her element.
(My goodness this child is remarkably, well, how should I put this....ME!)

Bird's Self-Portrait

You can click to enlarge this. I just loved it so. I loved the whole evening!!

Thanks Bird and George!




Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Progress

So, I finally have internet AND cable at home.

Yup.

All this time I've had so much to say and little opportunity to blog.

Now I can blog.




And I've got nothing to say.

Go.Me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Waiting

While I wait for the final settlement on the house in Pennsylvania, I thought I would productively kill time by sharing more pictures. Just what you wanted, right? Well, until we have adorable pictures of Newly's new baby girl to ogle, you'll have to settle for more moving pics.

Walking Boxed (empty ones going in to the old house)

The Help
George LOVED the moving truck.
I'd be a little concerned being a passenger with Eli at the wheel!
Before: LM's Room in the Midst of the Move
(his WAS the first unpacked)
After: LM's Room All Finished

Before: The Living Room Mess
After: The Living Room

Before: The Kitchen (no, it's not a greenhouse)

After: The Kitchen. Yep, it's tiny.
(I still don't know where to put groceries once we can afford them.)

Before: The Dining Room

After: Dinner Anyone?

Before: Eliza's Room
(I don't have an "After" pic, but I promise it just got done! -
All but one box anyway.)
The Hallway

The Bath (I have a half bath in my room, too, thank goodness!)
You Never Know What You'll Find in a Box!
A Day at Wine Fest (no whining allowed!)
Everyone loves funnel cake!

Even Eli!
(No, he didn't really eat it, the sugar got spilled on his head.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I Learned

So, I think I have pictures. But Newly is perhaps finally having that baby, so go read her blog and keep up on all her cool (but mucusy) happenings!

As for me, here are some simple things I learned while moving from Pennsylvania to Michigan:

1. If you believe from all that you read, and the computer packing wizard confirms it to be true, that you can, indeed fit all your belongings into a 16' moving van. You.Will.Be.Wrong. And you will be the idiot driving down Interstate 80 with a Penske truck and a U-Haul trailer behind.
2. If you drive close enough in front of the moving truck (because your brother is driving the truck without cruise control, so you must drive the car in the lead to keep him at a speed that will not destroy all your furniture) you can indeed pick up his ipod playing on the radio station.

3. You can sell a home, pack, clean, load and move all in 8 days time. I didn't say you could do it WELL necessarily.

4. Your brother will not only show his love and devotion to you by flying out to PA and spending two days loading an unloadable truck (see #1 above) but will show such consideration for all that you hold dear by finding a creative way for you to haul all your sprouts and plants to your new home. (Okay, not ALL. I left half of them behind with friends!)

5. You may (I'm just sayin') cry just a little when you say goodbye to your first home.

6. Even if you haven't slept well in weeks, even if you are nervous and stressed and exhausted (and did we mention stressed?) you will still be able to leave Pennsylvania at nearly 4 in the afternoon and drive straight through to Michigan, arriving at your sister's door at 3:30am.

7. And you will still get up at 7 the next morning to go unload.

8. And you will cry (I'm just sayin') just a little when you see the "Welcome to Michigan" sign that your sister and niece and nephew made for you.
9. And taking the very first item off the truck, your sister will break a mirror, ensuring the next seven years of your life will be MISERABLE. (Just kidding, Jules!)
10. You can, in fact, arrive at 3am on Sunday morning, spend two days unpacking and still manage to get your child to school for the very first day on time, without any glitches (like getting lost).

11. While it isn't pretty, you can in fact find many ways around not having personal internet service at home. (Helllooooo Library!)

12. Within the first week, you can spend more time faxing, notarizing and overnighting packages back to PA for the sale of your house than resumes going out for new job leads (although, it's a close race!)
13. On top of all of this stress, you can still take on an unexpected flood of water in your home's master bath (the home you still own this week, not, of course, the apartment you are just renting) and can deal with the problem from 4 states away with 4 days to go until settlement.

14. VISA actually does throw parties for users who go above and beyond ($70 for fingerprinting in order to substitute teach, $200 for a toilet repair for a home I no longer live in, $261 to renew homeowner's insurance that got jumbled in the move (not by me, by the company) in order to just cancel it 5 days later after settlement...) Mine is being held next week at the Ritz in Las Vegas. Anyone want to join me?

15. You can cry just a little (I'm just sayin') when your sister calls and says, "the kids' open houses for school are Thursday, do you want to come?" (and you're not just crying because she offered to feed you!)

16. You can actually survive the kick-off week of football without seeing a single game.

17. You can go one further and actually win your first fantasy football game without television or internet service.

18. You won't even miss (okay, maybe a little) having a microwave oven.

19. When you change your Verizon cell phone number from a PA number to an MI number, you will actually have to close out the one account and start fresh with a new account. Translation: all those extra minutes you used at the start of the month won't have time to even out by the end of the month. You'll have to pay overages if you want an MI number. (Note: the MI number is rather critical when trying to get a J-O-B in MI.) Refer to VISA party being held later this week.
20. While shedding some tears (I'm just sayin') the night before and expressing some (or a lot) of anxiety about a new school where he doesn't know anyone, LM will return home from his first day with the names of new friends and an excitement over his courses (all except P.E. - henceforth referred to as: Boot Camp.)

21. Pinching pennies like never before allows you to get really excited about the smallest things. Jiffy mixes for $.30, for example. (I'm just SAYIN'!!)
22. After all is said and done, and LM is happy at school and you are a few steps closer to being employed, and the house is 3 (COUNT THEM, THREE) days from settling on your former home, you will rest a little easier knowing that you have finally made it to where you've been trying to get for so very long.
23. Did I mention the Jiffy mixes?!











Friday, September 07, 2007

Just me with a short update

This trying to find a job while not having internet at home is a pain in the arse. I've learned that you (I) can sit in Fazolli's parking lot and mooch their free wi-fi. I can drive downtown and go to the BIG library but I have to pay a parking meter that is sucking up our very savings. I can go to Panera's, but after buying a lemonade (okay, and a cookie) to assauge my guilt, it turns out their connection totally bites and it's too much of a pain to make my expensive snack worthwhile. Today I found the branch library and here I have sat for the past, well, more than 2 hours uploading cover letters and resumes and completing online applications for every.blasted.company in Kalamazoo. Okay, only seven companies, but it takes HOURS.

I'd love to share pics but I can't find the card reader. I'd love to write about the fun we're having, but, well, I'm too exhausted to be having any. I'd love to tell you all about how wonderful life in Michigan is but at the moment we are without internet, without TV and that means NO FOOTBALL. So, no sanity.

Soon.

Very soon.

(I hope.)

We have a church to visit on Sunday, so that's something. LM loves school, so that's significant. We didn't misplace the dog OR the cat in the move. And despite the fact that the buyer's lawyer is being a MAJOR pain (he seemed to believe I only got divorced last April and demanded proof that's been 7 years...um, where exactly did he get his data?!) it does seem as though next week (Lord willing) the mortgage, I mean, house, will no longer be ours. That will be nice to have behind us.

Hope you are all doing well. I'll have to stop and read another day, I have limited time on the 'puter and job searching is A #1 priority!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Five Days

Bear has told me for years that stop signs with a white border are optional.

Apparently he was wrong.

I've lived in the state five days and I got a ticket today for rolling through a stop sign. I lived in PA for nearly ten years and never got a ticket. I lived in IL for a gagillion years and never got a ticket.

Five days.

(And yes, I'm going to fight it.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Moved

We're here. Whew. We arrived at 3 am on Sunday morning and have been unpacking and unloading ever since. We're 90% unpacked! G and Bear were TREMENDOUS help with the move. Jules had everything ready for us and has been a great help the last few days.

LM had his first day of school today and all went well. He thinks he'll go back for another day tomorrow.

I'll make a better post of this later, we're on Panera's wi-fi and I need to FIND A JOB. (Priorities!)

But first, I need to know....did Newly have that baby yet?!?