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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

He's Not a Baby Anymore...

You know, it just sneaks up on you. The day that your 'baby' is no longer a baby! This is fairly traumatic. Seriously!

Okay, first there was Saturday night when Michael went on his first 'official' sleepover. I mean he just LEFT! No "I'll miss you mom" or "Can I call if I want to come home?" Nothing. Nada. Zilch. He just grabbed his stuff and was on his merry way.

Then tonight after work, we were picking up Chinese food for dinner and I pulled up in front of the restaurant and Michael went in solo to pick up the food. Paid for it and all!

Where the heck did my little boy go???

At this point, if I mentioned this to Frank he'd be panicking thinking that I'm hinting at wanting another baby. Um...no. It's just so weird seeing my baby grow up and becoming more independent. You top that off with Nick driving and getting ready to have his license soon and you know what I'm going to be doing this summer while unemployed?

Sitting at the local bar crying in a bowl of daiquiri's!!

Not a pretty sight!

Happy Blogiversary, to me!

One year ago today I finally hopped on the band wagon and started my own blog. I can't say what finally made me do it, but I went home one afternoon after work and just did it! I am so glad that I did.

This last year has been wonderful - at least in respect to having the blog! This has been a place where I can keep my family and friends up to date on what's going on in our lives, I've been able to vent and just share some funny stories about the crazy things that seem to happen to me. And if you've been following for any length of time, you've seen that PLENTY of crazy things happen to me!

I've met some wonderful people who have become friends and added so much laughter and joy to my life. On the flip side, I've also had to deal with some not so friendly people (remember the Jet Blue incident?). But either way, writing here on All-Stace has just enriched my life.

I want to thank all of you who have been following and reading and leaving comments. I know life has been a little drab lately but with the store closing and unemployment looming...well, it can only get better, right?

I wish all of you a wonderful day and look forward to sharing more craziness with you for many years to come!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take a Little Time for You...

Today I had the opportunity to speak to a local MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group. I've said it before and I'll say it again, MOPS is one of the BEST ministries out there - it saved my life when we first moved down to North Carolina. Today's topic that I spoke on was "Taking Care of You".

I gave this talk once before to my homeschool group. That was a hilarious night. I had decorated the room with tons of candles and twinkly lights, hung gauzy fabric from the ceiling, had soft, classical music playing - and wore my jammies! Yes, my jammies. Not just ordinary jammies, oh no. I wore red silk pajama pants, a black cammi, red, fuzzy slippers and had my hair done up like Pebbles Flinstone. Oh, it was quite the sight!

Today I had no hand in the room set up, but wore the same outfit. I handed out chocolates (sometimes I threw them out in to the audience) and told these wonderful moms of the importance of taking time out for just themselves. How it is OKAY to stop being mom for a little while and go out with the girls. We talked about different ideas for pampering yourself when money is an issue - how to get inexpensive pedicures, spa treatments and massages.

Actually, I'm going to give a little plug here - Arbonne. If you have never heard of them, they are a Swiss cosmetics company. Their products are FABULOUS. Remember my spa party that I had a couple of months ago? Arbonne! For those of you who don't remember, the consultant came here to the house and we got to try out all kinds of wonderful products that made our hands smooth, we soaked our feet in tubs of hot scented water with smooth stones in it (like a little foot massage while you soak!), we got facials and ate tons of yummy, fattening food. Quite the night! No one spent a lot of money, so it wasn't a banner night for the Arbonne consultant, but for the eight of us there, it was heavenly!

I'm going to encourage all of you ladies out there to take a little time out this week that is just for you! Going to the gynecologist by yourself does NOT COUNT as alone time! Going for a mammogram? NOT ALONE TIME! Going out to a movie with a friend? THAT is alone time. Scrapbooking with some friends? THAT is alone time.

Go! Be pampered! Enjoy some time! You deserve it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another waiting game...

Several months ago, my dad called to tell me that Hospice had been called in to take care of my step-mom (wife number 2) who is in a nursing home after a severe brain hemmorhage 7 years ago. Her body is slowly shutting down and at this point, it is a blessing. You see, Collette was only 47 years old when this happened and is now 80% paralyzed, eats with a feeding tube, can hardly speak and her short-term memory is gone. There was never any hope for rehabilitation.

Two weeks ago while on the phone with dad, I inquired about Collette's health. "She had a bed sore," he said. "A bad one." Now, I'm no doctor but even I know that bed sores can be fatal. Kind of weird that your brain can have something burst in it and ultimately shift and you can live, but something as simple as a bed sore can kill you. It's all very weird to me. We talked about it a little and moved on. I talked to a good friend who is a nurse in a nursing home and she said to prepare ourselves because with the shape Collette is in, this was not going to end well.

Today my sister gets a call from my dad telling her about the bed sore. So, of course, she calls me. I told her that I was aware of the whole thing but she wasn't really phased by it. Not much phases her. Sometimes I envy her ability to just not get emotional but at times like this it's hard to imagine not getting even a little bit sad. She told me that this is a good thing and we should be happy that Collette was finally going to die. Just like very matter-of-factly. I did not like that. I know it's a good thing. I know that this would be the best for Collette. I struggle with extreme guilt that I have not been there except for ONE TIME in the last seven years and that trip just about killed me. I feel very selfish for not making more of an attempt to be there.

This woman was kind. She was always nice to me even when I did things to hurt her feelings. And I did, many times hurt her feelings. She never hesitated to take care of my son when he was a baby and was there from the moment he was born and even helped us get him on the right formula when he was practically starving to death. I wish there was something I could give back to her. I wish there was something that I could do to ease her pain. Dad says that she is on a lot of morphine and basically just sleeps. I wish that I could talk to her one more time and tell her thank you. I wish that Nick could hold her hand and tell her that he loves her.

We have no idea how long she has and after going through all that we did with Grandma, I know that it will not be an easy wait. What I wouldn't give to just have one more day...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Beautiful Day...

After the bliss that was yesterday, I was almost fearful of getting up this morning. I mean, how could we possibly top it? Well, newsflash, you can't. But I got up anyway and got myself ready for church. Week four, for anyone keeping count (I missed last Sunday because I was sick).

Michael and I arrived, I walked him to his class and headed in to the main building. I say hi to a few people and was just checking out the info board when one of the big metal signs falls off of it - narrowly missing my head! The woman right behind me made me wish that it DID hit me! We know that I don't name names on here but those of you who know me, will know what was running around in my brain. She turns around and is like "Is there nothing you won't do to get attention, Stacey?" She said it with a laugh but all I'm thinking is "get me the heck out of here!" She then went on for several minutes talking about the importance of friendships and being friendly to everyone and I kept a smile plastered on my face the whole time but in my head I was slapping her silly!

You see, this woman and I have known each other for years. We've gone to church together, we were in MOPS together...I mean, our paths have been crossing for years and I've never, ever, EVER felt close to her. Then, one afternoon several months ago, she came in to the bookstore, made a fuss about something, and then wrote a nasty e-mail about me to my boss. What she didn't know was that the other boss was standing only five feet away and witnessed the whole thing AND one of my very dear friends was also standing at the desk. Not one word of her e-mail was truthful. She came in asking for something, I could not do it at that exact moment, I asked her to give me a few days, and she left. But her actions afterwards and her lies linger on. So she can spout all she wants about friendship and kindness but I know what she is really like.

But I digress...I got away from her as fast as possible and for the next hour and a half I was surrounded by wonderful people, hearing God's words, singing some beautiful praise music and just felt happy. After the service several people walked over to talk to me because they had seen me lurking around these last few weeks and wanted to come over and catch up, I got to stop and talk to a couple who have a very ill infant and just hug them both and let them know I was praying for them (You can see their story at Nothing 2 Bring ) and just walk around in the sunshine on this beautiful Sunday.

It is actually quite hot outside today and I honestly think that I will spend the remainder of the day indoors enjoying the A/C, but for the morning, it was nice to be out. I wish all of you a beautiful day!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And then there were two...

So, weird day today. Nick went to Kings Dominion with his girlfriend, her sister and the sister's boyfriend. It is three hours away. In another state. I spent a large portion of the morning on the verge of tears. Why? I mean, I KNOW the boy is seventeen and all but all I could think was that if - God forbid - something happened, I was far away. Three hours, 180 miles away. That is a lot. This is the first time he has travelled that far without parental supervision. It was all very emotional for me. If anything truly would have happened, he would have been with the girl that he loves, but his mom would not be there. Very draining on me.

To help me out a little, Frank took Michael and a friend to the movies. It was wonderful to have the house to myself for a little while. The plan was to do laundry, write my talk for MOPS that I am giving on Tuesday, and just generally take care of business around here. What did I actually do? I listened to my MP3 player for about an hour - cranked up with 80's rock - and then read for an hour. About 15 minutes before Frank walked in the door, I actually sat down and began to write. He doesn't know that part. I was hunched over the keyboard looking all weary and he was like "Hey, how's it going?" to which I responded "I seem to have writer's block." He bought it. I don't feel good about it, but he bought it.

Now we have two 9-year olds here running around, thoroughly giddy at having seen "Monsters Vs. Aliens". They played video games and quoted the movie for two hours. When the parents came to pick their son up, it was decided (by the 9 year olds) that Michael would go to their house for a sleepover!

???

Can I just say that this is Michael's first official sleep over at a friend's house. I had no time to prepare for it. One minute he's dancing around doing the robot (why? no one knows) and the next minute he has his pillow and is running out the door!! It all happened in the blink of an eye and once the door was closed Frank and I just stood there and looked at each other like "What just happened here?"

WE WERE ALONE!!!

IN OUR HOUSE!!!

WITH NO KIDS FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER 7 HOURS!!!

YIPPEE!!!

Talk about a moment. There has never been a night like this. Well, maybe not 'never' but it's been a really, really, really long time. We went out to dinner, we went to Sam Ash to buy drum sticks, we went to Comp USA to check out laptops, we went to Target and bought WONDERFULLY sinful Egyptian cotton 500 thread count sheets! I am almost giddy about going to sleep tonight!

So here I am at 10:15 on a Saturday night. No worries from Michael (praise the Lord!), Nick just called to say that they just left the park and he will be home around 1 a.m. and Frank and I are just chillin and enjoying the quiet.

Yea for the quiet!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Rough Being a Woman

So as I mentioned in my last post, I went and had my very first mammogram. I did NOT want to go. At all. As a matter of fact, I kept ignoring the scheduling nurse's call for months just because I did not want to have to deal with this. But she finally wore me down and to be fair, she got me in under a program where it was free.

Can't argue with that, right?

I was in a pretty pissy mood the whole morning of the appointment. I mean, you can't wear deodorant!!! It's not like I smell or anything, but you know, no deodorant!!! I had no idea where the place was and I really hate not knowing where I'm going. I get all freaked out and end up leaving WAY too early and getting there way too early.

Which I did.

I arrived at this massive hospital complex and was told that the office was next to the emergency room. Great. So are several buildings, none of which are clearly marked. So I walked around outside - more like wandered aimlessly. Finally, when I could take no more, I walked up to the next building with a head full of steam . Screaming in my head about how inconsiderate it was to not give me more thorough directions and how I was going to yell at the first person I found in the next building and how they had better watch out! Well, I stepped through the automatic doors and immediately to my right was the office that I needed.

Yeah, they got lucky.

I came prepared with a book and a fresh bottle of water. Never got to either of them because these people were ever-so-efficient. I was checked in, moved to a changing area and taken in to "the room" within minutes of my arrival. How fortunate for me. So I go in to this room and make small talk with the technician, all the while thinking "This woman is going to traumatize my boobs!" And you know what? She kind of did. I mean, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Don't get me wrong, it sucked. In a big way. And I don't think "the girls" have ever been quite so man-handled. Usually I require a nice drink or perhaps dinner out before someone has at them! It was awkward, to say the least.

In the end, it was relatively quick. My collar bone hurts more than anything. It kind of got mashed in there for the side shots and I'm still a bit uncomfortable. But I had my comfort food (see earlier post) and I'm okay. Hopefully the results will be fine and I won't have to deal with this again for another two to three years.

God willing.

I'm in a Nana State of Mind

My dad's side of the family is Italian. My grandparents on his side were very Italian. I can remember staying at their house on the weekends and just cooking and eating and eating and cooking. Sometimes my Nana's sisters (my great-aunts) would come over and cook with us. We made homemade pastas and sauces and there was usually always something going on in the kitchen.

Today I had to go for my very first mammogram. NOT a pleasant experience. So even before I went, I knew I was going to want some comfort food tonight. Hence, the Nana-mode. I stopped at the way home at the Italian pork-store in town, DaVinci's, and bought some of my favorite pasta, Cavatelli. We used to make this one from scratch but there just isn't time and I've never made it as well as Nana did. I've got meat sauce simmering that has both ground beef and ground Italian sausage. The sauce itself is all made by me (short of growing and picking the tomatoes myself, that is). We have our favorite brand of grated parmesan cheese, the Locatelli. It will be one heck of a feast here tonight. I've got my apron on and am just loving the smells coming from the kitchen.

Having come from a big Italian family and living in New York to moving to the South, dealing with the different foods was a major adjustment. The pork store only opened up maybe a little under two years ago. It's funny because the guy that owns it looks exactly like my dad. The first time I went in there I almost screamed. Then I took Nick in there and he heard the guy arguing with his wife and he was like "Is Grandpa here?" So then just for fun I took Frank in there without warning him who the owner looked like and he almost screamed, as well! Ah, good times. So anyway, when that store first opened up, I bought some of the Cavatelli from them and made it for dinner one night and just about cried. Frank and the boys looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. It was just so...so...like being a little girl again at Nana's house!

It's a good memory. One that will stay with me forever and tonight, I raise a toast to my Nana and all that she taught me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Of Marathons and Men...

So the training has begun. Nothing major, just another good three mile walk. It felt good. I felt good when it was done. I have not done any major changes to my diet as of yet. What is amazing me the most is the reaction of family and friends to this whole idea. I was thinking that people would be excited for us and encouraging. Apparently, not so much. Maybe we're not as committed to finishing things as we like to think we are. But that's okay. Me, personally, I am not doing this for anyone else's approval. I am doing it for me. It is something that I have wanted to do for a long time and so I am doing it. My face will not be on the front of a Wheaties box, there will be no "endorsement" deals, I will just feel good about myself.

Frank is kind of quiet about this whole endeavor. He is neither cheering nor is he telling me not to do it. I was kind of hoping for him to choose a side of the fence but he has not as of yet. We'll see how that all goes.

We had a weird morning this morning. One minute we were laughing and joking and then in the blink of an eye, everything was different. I won't go in to specifics (for his sake) but he said something, then I said something. I thought we were joking but apparently he did not think so. Things got ugly. I slammed some doors, he refused to let me finish getting ready when I needed to...it was just a crappy way to start the day.

Why is it that everything a man says to a woman is a joke, but what a woman says in a joking way is taken seriously? I just don't get it. Either way, my morning was crap. We left without saying good-bye to each other and I pray that I don't come to regret that. We're both working all day and then he is going to play with the band right from work. He did that last week and when I went to bed early and missed his coming home, he was in a snit about that. So I guess I will have to stay up late for his sake and be the good wife.

Being the good wife sucks sometimes.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Will she run???

And by "she", I mean me. And by "run", I mean speed walk. And the answer is....
YES! The girls and I are planning to do a local half marathon in November. I know, I know, it's not the dream of the Disney half marathon but it is already 90% full of this coming January and I just didn't want to make the huge financial commitment if I didn't train properly and couldn't do it. So to take the pressure off of myself and my friends, we decided that we would do a half marathon here in Raleigh for November of 2009 and then go for the 2011 Disney half marathon.

I AM SO PSYCHED!!!

This is not something that I am taking lightly. I am looking at a lot of different training strategies - but I am NOT looking for others telling me how to do it. I totally want to be in my own comfort zone here and to train at my own pace. I have no intention of running at any point. I just can't do it. My heart rate goes up extremely quick and the doctors have no idea as to why but because of that, running is just not an option. Nor do I want it to be.

I really believe that we can do this. We're not looking to break any records, we're doing this because we want to, because it seems like it could be fun and what a neat example to set for our kids!

So don't be looking for me to be running by your home or jogging down the block. I'll be sticking (at least at the beginning) with the workouts from the Walk Away the Pounds series and my Power 90. Maybe the closer to the Fall we'll hit the actual road to get used to walking the pavement but for now, it's all indoors.

I'm just too excited!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

It Just Makes Me Sad...

Okay so we have about 6 weeks before the closing of the bookstore. We have everything in the store on sale, fixtures are moving out of here, we are at about 1/3 of what we used to be. While that in itself is enough to make me sad, there is more.

Sigh.

I've worked in retail for many, many years. In big clothing stores mostly. In those settings, you are used to theft/shrinkage. I did not think it possible in a Christian book store. I mean, what kind of low-life individual do you have to be to STEAL from the Christian book store? I had one customer come in who wanted to get what was left of her consignment and there were TWENTY ONE pieces missing!!! Twenty one! That is HUGE! I've dealt with the sneaky kids stealing candy or soda but to walk out of the store with books that you have not paid for is disgusting. Do people not realize that every time you STEAL something - and yes, I'm saying STEAL and not TAKE - you are stealing not only that item(s) but you are stealing somebody's livelihood. Somebody's job. Somebody's hard, earned money. Shame on you!

I really thought that our final weeks in business were going to be sad but honestly, right now they are just filled with disgust for what we are finding. I really wish that this was not the reality. If a business closes because of the rotten economy, then that is one thing but to be hit in the face with this kind of thievery is just unacceptable to me.

If you are a small business owner reading this, invest in some heavy duty surveillance equipment because I guess we all need it. Save you business and apparently, trust no one.

What a sad statement about our fellow man.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Technology? Not So Much...

Last week I decided to purchase a ring-tone for my little cell phone. I've had it for almost two years. It's pretty basic, no exciting features. So I went on to the Verizon web-site and downloaded a tone (the theme from "How I Met Your Mother") and I was pretty psyched about it. Well, the phone did not have enough memory for it. I did not find this out until AFTER I paid for it and had it added to my phone plan. I was so NOT amused.

So I go to the Verizon store right here in town and they tell me to go to the Verizon "Tech" store that is like twenty miles away. Remember all this? So I got my new phone, I was feeling all kinds of sassy with it and you know what? It SUCKS. Yes, that's right. My new, high-tech, sassy purple phone SUCKS. Why? What is so bad about it? Well, for starters, it has to be charged every day. While this should not be a big deal, it is for me because I BARELY use my phone. I mean, I call Frank, he calls me. Occasionally, I talk to someone else but those calls last less that ten minutes. Maybe I use the phone for twenty minutes a damn day. That is crazy to have to re-charge for that little of bit of usage!

I e-mailed Verizon to troubleshoot. They were very efficient and called me the next morning and told me to take the phone back to the store to have the battery checked. They made all sorts of notations on my account and even sent me a copy of all of their notes. I was pleased. I went to the Verizon store today - the one that is twenty miles away. Again. The gentleman who checked me in asked me what was going on, I told him, he told me that they would call me in a few minutes and would check my battery. I wait. I get called. Do they check the battery?

NO.

Why? Because efficient phone batteries are...wait for it...old school. I kid you not. A grown man stood there and explained to me that these new phones with their new technology drain these slim batteries and that the days of the long charged battery are over. They are (and again I quote) old school. Now don't get me wrong, he was very friendly, very polite, but the fact remains that he just would NOT check the battery. He explained in every way possible WHY these batteries are not as efficient as the old ones and I get that. But isn't there just a teeny-tiny chance of this particular battery being defective? Isn't there just an itsy-bitsy possibility that all of this could be cleared up with a new battery? Shouldn't the fact that EVERY OTHER VERIZON PERSON I SPOKE TO said to check the battery mean anything?

In the bizarro world that I live in, apparently not. So I'm here with the same phone. With the same battery. I will be writing a very long, very elaborate letter of complaint to Verizon tonight. I get a lot of results that way. Sure it's time consuming but in the grand scheme of things, the customer should get what they paid for. In this case I paid for a phone that I was told gave me more bang for my buck and it is not. I should have stayed with my old, low-tech, low-feature phone. At least with that one I only had to charge it twice a week!

So next time you think you want to just add a simple feature to your phone? Beware!!! You never know what kind of Pandora's Box you are opening!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some Shrink Would Have a Field Day With Me!

It is so cliche - the whole "issues with my dad" thing. So many people have them. Lately, I am having a field day with mine. Why?

Sigh.

Okay so my sister is planning a weekend trip down to Florida to see my dad. Why? Because he keeps asking her to. Does he EVER ask me to come down and visit? No. I know, I know...I don't really WANT to visit him but it would be nice if he at least PRETENDED to want to see me once in a while. They are going to go to Disney together for the weekend. Talk about a double slap in the face. So while my sister is going on and on and on about this weekend she is planning my mind is a whirling. There are so many issues, it's unbelievable.

First, why, why, WHY does my own father not want to see me? He used to get at me all the time about how he felt that I favored Michael over Nick and CLEARLY he favors Karen over me. Every man my sister has ever been married to or been involved with, dad thinks is great. They've been alcoholics, cheaters and just plain slack-assy but they are swell guys in dad's mind. Husband number two became the executor of my dad's estate. Meanwhile, Frank and I have been married for close to 20 years, he makes me extremely happy and barely EVER gets any kind of kind words spoken about him by any member of my family. I don't get it!! I don't understand why we are such freakin' freaks that just don't rate in any way, shape or form.

I don't play his game, I admit that. I don't "Ooh" and "Ahh" over everything that he does. I'm not impressed with his Soprano-wanna-be lifestyle. I think that for many years he made his second wife dress as a cheap bimbo (I may have said that to his face at one point, but I'm not sure). I live a very simple life. I don't go out "clubbing", I don't drink and I've never done drugs. I'm pretty much as opposite as I can be from him. But I am still his daughter. I still have feelings and I still deserve to shown some common courtesy.

I asked my mom about this last night because I was just so annoyed with the whole thing and she was very wise and very honest. She said he does these things because he cannot really be himself when I am around. My sister does all of the "flash" things with him - they'll go to over-priced restaurants and rave about the food. They'll drink, they'll club. Me and Frank? Well, we're pretty much our happiest sitting around over a good, home-cooked meal and good conversation. I can remember one New Year's Eve when we were still dating that we met up with dad and Collette at a restaurant after midnight. It was so utterly and completely awkward that I never, ever wanted to do it again. They were so drunk it was embarrassing and honestly, the people they were with were creepy.

So yes, I know that I am better off for NOT putting myself (or him for that matter) in situations that are really not comfortable for either of us, but the little girl in me just sometimes would like to know that her father actually gives a damn about her and would like to spend a day with her. That's not so horrible, right?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teacher's of the Round Table...

Yesterday I had a meeting up at Michael's school with their Student Support Team. The principal initiated this meeting and I was sent a very basic letter "inviting" me to come and talk with this team about ways to help Michael do better in the classroom. I know that he needs help so of course I went.

I arrived at the school only five minutes early (I planned to get there sooner but afternoon traffic was a killer!). Michael's teacher was waiting for me in the lobby and we walked to the meeting together - which was in a trailer just outside the main building. We opened the door and there sat a group of EIGHT people!! I was a little overwhelmed. I actually stood there and gaped. I was like "Wow, there are a lot of you!" They found me amusing.

Over the next 30 minutes this group of amazing people (there was his teacher, his science/social studies teacher, a guidance councilor, a speech pathologist, a clinical psychologist/social worker, the principal...I forgot what the other's did because I was a little shell-shocked) asked me questions and actually listened to me about Michael. They asked his teacher very specific questions. They offered suggestions. When I told them about the medication his pediatrician put him on for ADD they all gasped! Apprently, this particular medication can sort of bring out or escalate his anger issues. Charming. Yet another point for doctor "touchy-feely". They recommened taking him off of the meds and not one of them - most of who have daily interaction with Michael - felt that he was ADD! Lucky for me I found the big ADD expert to treat my child, right?

I left there feeling encouraged. I felt that today somebody, SOMEBODY, was actually going to try and help my boy. They are working on ways to structure his day a little more. No surprises seems to work for him. The psychologist is going to spend some time observing him and his behavior as well as that of the teacher. She actually came here to the bookstore today to talk with me a little bit more! I can't get his doctor to talk to me about Michael for more than 30 seconds and this woman who I just met took time out of her morning to drive to my place of business and give me some more information.

I'm a bit emotional about the whole damn situation. You know, I had a heinous pregnancy with Michael. We had prayed for another child for so long and when I did finally conceive, it was just awful. I was sick every day of that pregnancy. I was suicidal at one point and I remember reading an article that said that mother's who have stressful pregnancies (or are depressed, have anxiety, whatnot) will tend to have children who are more high maintenance. Well, he has certainly been that and more at times. But most of the time, he is warm and cuddly. He is my little Bean. I hate that he is struggling with anything! I want him to be happy. I want him to have good days. I don't want to think about him having to be "observed" because no one knows what in the world is wrong with him.

I want my family to be supportive. I don't want them passing judgement or mocking me with stupid comments like "Well, you prayed for him!" or "Remember, you just had to have another child!" What kind of crap is that? He is a little boy that they should love! He's just a little different and needs some extra love and understanding!

I wish I could just take him and hug him right now.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!


You know, when you are the mother of a son there are many years where you are the only woman in his life. He picks dandelions for you to make you smile. To him, you are the most beautiful, the most wonderful. He would slay any dragon that dare to hurt his mom.

And then there comes a time in his life where he meets someone and mom is no longer the most beautiful or the most wonderful. He goes out and picks wildflowers in the wee hours of the morning and they are no longer for you. He is ready to slay dragons for somebody else. This is a big turning point in the mother/son relationship. Fifteen months ago, I experienced that turning point when Nick met Beckah.

Had this been any other girl, I think I would have totally lost my mind. But this girl, this wonderful, wonderful girl has come to mean so much to me - to all of us. She became the positive influence when Nick's friends were not. She gives support and encouragement to my son when he needs it most. Her smile is truly lovely. Beckah is grace and beauty and light in a world where Nick used to be dark, angry and bleak. She is the daughter I never had.

Happy Birthday, our sweet, sweet Beckah. Thank you for all of the love, laughter and joy that you have brought in to our lives. I pray that your day is wonderful and full of amazing surprises. We love you for all that you are.


A Heartfelt Easter

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. It felt weird this year. Not just the day in general, but even the time leading up to it. I was not in to making plans, I had no idea what I was making for dinner until the day before...all very unlike me. Michael informed us that he did not want any eggs or baskets, there was no need for an egg hunt. All he really wanted was a chocolate bunny and maybe, just maybe a little gift. Considerate, right?

So yesterday began with the giving of the chocolate bunnies and gift cards plus the DVD of "Bolt". The boys were very thankful. I got up and got myself ready for church but I just was not feeling it. Michael and I went to church (Nick went with Beckah) and we got there early and really had no idea where we were supposed to go. After some random wandering, we found out. Michael went to his service and I headed off to mine. I had the opportunity to sit with an old friend. We see each other from time to time but she was truly surprised to see me at church yesterday. When she invited me to sit with her and her family, I readily agreed. The music was nice, the sermon was relevant but I still wasn't there.

Then came the closing of the service and they sang "Amazing Grace". And I wept like a baby. I hear this song all the time on the radio at work but standing there and singing it brought me to my knees. Thankfully, my friend had tissues because I was a mess. Not only does this wonderful song/prayer say so much about what Jesus did for us, but it was one of my grandmother's favorites. Standing there singing it reminded me of all of the times she came to church with me and sang it while standing beside me. My heart hurt. On a day where we are to remember the one who died and rose again for us, I was also remembering the one that I am missing the most. I was a mess by the time I got home.

BUT...when I got home, there was my wonderful husband. My knight in shining armor. Ladies, everyone should have one of these. Frank doesn't go to church with me and I have learned to deal with that a very long time ago. But when I got home yesterday he was deep in to my "honey-do" list that I have been wanting him to do for ages. The yard was clean, the broken swing set was dealt with, tools were put away, air filters were changed...I mean, the man WORKED all day right up until dinner time. Acts of service is truly my love language and on a day that I needed it most, my man came through. It's just another reason that I love him so.

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Easter. I hope that you were surrounded by those that you love the most.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

If one can't go to Disney, bring Disney to you...

Yes, yes, I know. Some of you are like "For the love of it, no more Disney!" To that I say WHAT???

It's Saturday and I am bored and wishing I was on vacation. That is not even a remote possibility at the moment so I have to find ways to amuse myself in the meantime. Many years ago, I found this great site to book Disney trips called Kingdom Magic Travel (Kingdommagictravel.com). This is the site that I won the four-day Radisson resort stay and a $25 Disney Store gift card from through their trivia contest.

Well now, their president, Rick Howard, has his own travel blog called Travel With Rick (TravelwithRick.com). I LOVE this site because Rick - the luckiest man on Earth in my opinion - travels around all of the Disney parks and videos the attractions for us and then puts them up on his site for us to enjoy. If you are planning a trip to Disney and want to know what a ride is like, check out his site. So far he's posted 13 episodes/videos on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in Disneyland, Nemo and Friends at Epcot, The Matterhorn at Disneyland, California Screamin in Disneyland, The Castle Lighting at the Magic Kingdom, The Wishes Fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland Transit Authority (one of my personal favorites) in Magic Kingdom, The Country Bear Jamboree in Magic Kingdom, It's a Small World in Magic Kingdom, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Fireworks in Epcot, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom and Soarin' in Epcot.

In about an hour's time, I feel like I've spent the day at my happy place. So for all of my Disney friends out there, give Rick's site a look. Some of the videos are a bit shakey, but you get the idea and it's a great way to relive some of the fun of a trip.

Have a magical day!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ponderings While Shopping...

So today is my day off. I did not get to sleep as late as I wanted to and I am no longer in my jammies. I've pretty much failed in all of my dreams of what I would do with my day off. That's not a bad thing, though.

Michael and I were out of the house by 11:30 and we had a lunch date at the new New York Bagel and Deli that opened up here in town. For those of you who live near me, I HIGHLY recommend this place. We decided to dine-in and our sandwiches were HUGE! Michael had the "Empire State" sandwich - Boars Head turkey, Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes on a bagel. It was the size of his head! I got my favorite - the Italian hero. Yummy!!! I was in my total Italian girl glory. They even had real New York style potato salad! I almost cried. I seriously considered hugging the staff that worked there, but I refrained.

While Michael was finishing up his lunch, I went back up to the counter and ordered some pastries for later to surprise Frank. I got black and white cookies, chocolate logs, crumb cake, bear claws and some sort of Easter Egg cake. I so can't wait until after dinner tonight! Too bad I just can't skip dinner and eat cake FOR dinner! How perfect would that be? Um...totally. So for all you New Yorkers here in the NC area, New York Bagels and Deli is in the Heritage Subdivision next to the Wal-Greens (that is on the corner of Rogers Road). Well worth the trip. We had their bagels last week and they were amazing. Their actual address is 929-100 Heritage Lake Road.

Okay, so after the very filling lunch, Michael and I had errands to run and were in and out of a bunch of stores. Here's some questions that came to mind while I was roaming around:
- When did handbags/pocketbooks get so big?
- When did underwear get so small?
- Why is a 20 oz. bottle of coke $1.39 but a two-liter is only $1.59?
- What justifies a $7 magazine?
- What's the point of having 37 check-out stations if you only plan on utilizing
three of them?
These are the things that run around my brain while I'm shopping. There is a LOT of ugly stuff out there that I cannot believe anyone would buy. Ever.

It wasn't a bad day off. I do have to drive in to Raleigh either tonight or tomorrow morning to the Verizon "tech" store because my useless piece of ____ cell phone is killing me. Slowly and painfully. I purchased a ringtone for it the other day, paid for it, and my phone will not allow me to use it because it claims that I don't have enough memory on it!!! Now I can't get rid of the charge for it on my monthly bill. So I went to my local Verizon store and the guy there starts playing with the phone and he's like "Dude, what is UP with your phone?" Um, dude-alert , that's why I'm here talking to YOU. He's telling me that all KINDS of things are wrong with my phone. I'm like "I just want to hear the How I Met Your Mother theme song when my phone rings!" Now I have to go to their local "tech" store to have some phone-nerd fix my phone or replace it. I'm opting for replacing it.

Could I be that lucky?

I'll keep you posted.

Have an awesome Good Friday, my friends. Roo, if you are reading this, I hope all went well with your little boy today. You are in my prayers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So Glad the Week is Coming to an End!

It has been one of those weeks. Seriously. Today is Thursday and I am so, so, SO very happy that my weekend begins tomorrow. I'm sure by the end of the day I will be even more excited about it.

Let's see...why am I feeling this way? Well, let's see...Starting on Sunday, I had forgotten about a birthday party that Michael was invited to. So after church we ran like crazy people to Target to buy a gift, come home, wrap it, eat lunch and run out the door. He had a great time right up until the end and then got in to a fight on the miniature golf course with a classmate over who's turn it was and stormed off the greens. Not a good way to end the party celebrations. I ran a bunch of errands while he was at the party but it's like that day set the tone for the week. I was forever running and not getting anything done on time. Most nights this week, I didn't get dinner on the table until 7:30 or 8:00! That is SO NOT ME!!

Monday found me getting a check thrown in my face (literally) by an obnoxious student with an attitude. Payments for classes were due and I collect them for the teachers and this child walked in and walked passed me and threw the check in my face - without breaking stride or even looking at me! Should the child feel the need to ever do such a thing to me again, others will have to get involved. You'd think the parents would have taught better manners.

Tuesday found me practically slipping in to a coma in the afternoon. I was so tired that I actually picked up the stapler to make a phone call! Now that's tired. So I napped for two hours and then could not sleep at all that night. Sleep is very, very important to me.

Yesterday morning Frank and I had a fight over a chore that he wanted Nick to do. He gave Nick something to do when he got home from classes and I interrupted and changed it a little. That did not go over well. We did not speak all day and went out to dinner last night for a date night and it came up over dinner. There were some tense moments where I ALMOST contemplated skipping my Outback dinner, but darn that bloomin onion, I just couldn't go!! Well, that and the fact that we really did need to clear the air on what happened. Neither one agrees with the other but we have agreed to disagree. Sometimes that's all you can do, you know?

Today I have a parent/teacher conference with Michael's teacher. Those are NEVER fun. Ever. She'll tell me how he misbehaves and then will tell me all of the ways that he is smart and wonderful. I'll leave there not having a clue as to what in the world is going on or how to get him to follow the rules. Trying, trying times.

Add to all of that that we are deep in to the closing of the bookstore process and as we are giving people their consignment back we are finding quite a bit of missing merchandise. Shame on you for stealing from the Christian bookstore! I know I have addressed sticky-fingered teens, but I think I am even more nauseated by the sticky-fingered adults! I mean, what teen would willingly TAKE a biology book? So you know it's the adults. I am just sickened by the whole thing.

I am going to sleep in tomorrow. I am going to sleep with a mask over my eyes so that I do not have to face the sun until I am good and ready. I may just stay in my jammies all the live-long day and eat bon-bons.

Not a good dieting move but hey, sometimes a girl just needs to eat some bon-bons!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Honestly, It's like living with the Hulk!

You know how when you go food shopping and you buy things like jarred pickles or those two liter bottles of soda that when you go to open them you feel like you need some sort of super-human strength?

Welcome to every day in my world. All day. All the time.

Frank is freakishly strong. Seriously. Other people know it too because it is just expected that he can move all kinds of things on his own that two people together would not. So no matter what is in my home, if it has a lid, it is on there. Tight. Freakishly, freakishly tight.

It's not unusual for there to be an "open" bottle of soda that takes three of us to open to have some. Why? Because Frank was the last to use it and put the cap back on as if he were fighting with the bottle and trying to teach it a lesson. Jars of pickles? The metal lids look really battered by the time we are done with them because I have to keep beating them with a knife to try and loosen them after Frank has used them. This morning I was in the shower and reached to use my little jar of peppermint foot scrub. Do you have any idea how hard it already is to open a wet jar with WET hands? Well, imagine trying that after the bionic man has closed the lid! I nearly broke a hip after I lost my footing while twisting around trying to get that baby open!

And it's not just things with lids, it's clothes, too. I've never seen a human being rip their clothes the way he does. Well, that's not true. Six year old boys seem to rip their jeans with the greatest of ease but my 45-year old husband could really give them a run for their money! Belt loops are constantly torn. Why? Because he wears his key ring on them and apparently, this item too fights him and so, to show it who is truly the boss, he rips it off. That will teach that key ring to put up a fight!! Then there are the knees in all of his pants. I mean, I know that he climbs ladders and occasionally will have to crawl around on a roof or the occasional wooden deck, but some of these pants look like he's been crawling on broken glass for miles! Maybe the pants fight him while he's putting them on and he's teaching them a lesson too. I don't know. All that I do know is that I am tired of both seeing him in ripped clothing AND having to replace the darn ripped clothing!

Not all clothing and inanimate objects are fighting you, sweetheart. Take it easy. Show them some love. Trust me, they respect you. There's no need to keep showing them who is boss. They know it is you. They love you and so do I.

Oh, and on a side note, he is down to less than one pack of cigarettes a day!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Top 10 Things I Learned at the Writer's Meeting...

Saturday I went to a meeting of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. I've wanted to go to one of their meetings for YEARS but something always seemed to come up. I had this date on my calendar for months and Friday night Frank threw something in my path. He had to work. The man hasn't worked on a Saturday in like six months but suddenly, when it's my time to finally go to one of these meetings, he has to work. This was a problem because he would be leaving at 9:00, I had to leave at noon, Nick had to be to work at 2:00 and Michael had no place to go. Not fun.

My future daughter-in-law is an angel. She swooped in to the rescue and for that (and many, many other reasons) I love her.

So I go to this meeting. It was an agent/editor panel discussion. I've done a lot of researching on line about the do's and don't's of submitting but man, oh man, I guess there are a lot of people out there who do not. Here are some of the top things that I learned:

1.) Follow the DETAILED submissions guidelines on the agent/editor's website. Each individual agency has their own guidelines. Please adhere to them.
2.) Each agency has their own estimated turnaround time in getting back to you. Do not harass them. They will get back to you on an average of 2-3 weeks but can take up to two months.
3.) Always, always, ALWAYS address the editor by name in your query letter. Do not address it "To Whom It May Concern", or "Dear Sir or Madame", and certainly do NOT address it "Hey Lady". Seriously, who would do that???
4.) Give as much info about your experience as a WRITER in your query and avoid saying things like "My mom really likes my book". They want to know about you and any relevant information to the writing.
5.) Remember, the query letter is to be mostly about the BOOK. They do need to know about you as the writer, but it is more important to get them information about your book.
6.) Do not do a bulk e-mail to editors with your query/synopsis. They get deleted immediately and never read. Write an individual letter to each individual editor/agent.
7.) Talk to other author's of the publishing house you are trying to submit to and find out if this is truly a group you want to get involved and do business with.
8.) Always include your contact information on everything you submit.
9.) Thoroughly polish your work before submitting. Make sure your work is free of grammar mistakes, spelling errors and typos. Fix them all before submitting.
10.) 75% of all submissions get rejected. Yikes!

Okay, so all in all, there weren't a whole lot of surprises - except number 10. I felt so excited about being there! As a first time visitor to one of these meetings, I was unaware that you had to make an appointment with the agents/editors to speak to them after the meeting. There was one particular editor that I really, really wanted to speak to but could not. So what did I do?

I introduced myself to her in the ladies room.

That little stunt may show up somewhere on the "Top 10 Things You DON'T do if you Want to Get Published".

Saturday, April 4, 2009

We Celebrated!!!


Okay, so yesterday was the day! Party time! I was feeling all kinds of pressure to make it fun and I think I actually pulled it off. I was up and baking cookies at 7:30 in the morning. Mickey-shaped cookies. Not a small task because I do not have a Mickey-shaped cookie-cutter. So I had to shape/roll them all by hand. I did them in chocolate chip and sugar cookies. I won't lie to you friends, I am not a baker, nor do I have a lot of patience, and there were a few batches that just came out like big ol' blobs of dough. Not pretty. Luckily I have a husband and son who gallantly offered to "dispose" of those for me so that no one would have to see my failure. Quality guys, those two.

We blew up balloons, I curled what seemed like MILES of ribbons and did my best to make it all pretty and fun. The Disney Mom people sent me this great box of stuff but other than the balloons, decorating was totally up to me. Luckily I can think outside the box. HA! Get it? They sent me a box and I thought outside it? Oh, sometimes I am just WAY too funny. Wait, let me wipe the tears of laughter away. ..... Okay, I'm back. So, many years ago I had to decorate a table for my MOPS (Mothers of Pre Schoolers) group. We were allowed to use any theme we wanted so of course, I chose Disney. I had made Mickey-shaped place mats out of black oak-tag and I decided to go that route again. Only this time, a big larger. I started with basic red on the table and then added three giant Mickey heads that were large enough for party-platters.

Next, on my little server, I took those miles of curled ribbons and the Disney photo album they sent me and went wild! I covered our mirror in "What Will You Celebrate?" balloons and even made little Mickey-heads to cover my candle-sticks that are on there. I may leave those up because I'm not overly fond of the candle sticks and these look way more fun. I'm sure Frank will have something to say about that but let's see how long I can let that go before he does!

So my dining room was all set, I put some ballons up on the archway leading to it. I set up some little tables in the living room for various things from the box. The first was a sign-in type of table where my guests filled out a vacation DVD card that will enter them for a chance to win a diamond "Mom" necklace. I put more balloons up on there and even pulled out a favorite Disney picture from our last family trip and had them all use a lighted Tinker Bell pen. Festive, right?

The next table housed the party games that came in the kit. There was Disney Bingo (which we never even got to) and some sort of Disney Wish Maker thing for the kids to cut out and play with. I sent those home with them because the thought of them all using scissors while running around (and yes, with boys, they were all running at one point or another!) was just too dangerous. I thought it was a neat addition to their party bags. OH! And yes, there were party bags that each child got that I made little Mickey name tags for. Nothing great, just white Mickey-shaped (again) tags tied on with red ribbon. I thought they looked cute.

So now it was time to finish up my table. Mickey-shaped cookies? Check. Mickey-shaped cheese on fabulous vegetable flavored crackers? Check. Grapes, just to keep it slightly healthy? Check. Colorful fortune cookies from the Disney Mom people? Check. Beverages for every taste (cola, water, juice boxes)? Check. I have to admit, I LOVED the way the table looked and almost hated to see it touched. Luckily, we took lots of pictures BEFORE we let the kids dig in!

When everyone arrived, it was Disney-talking-mayhem! I found a music
clip on Amazon.com where you can hear about a dozen different songs from Walt Disney World - only about 20-30 seconds of each - that I had playing when people came in but it only played through once! I was a little bummed at that, but I thought it was fun to set the tone. We took pictures, the kids went off and played a Star Wars game (????) while us moms just kicked back and talked about the place that we love so darn much it hurts! We all enjoyed the snacks, we played some Disney trivia (my friend Alison's son was AMAZING at this and put us all to shame), we looked at pictures and before we knew it, it was time for everyone to go!

And now it's time to say good-bye, to all our company....M-I-C (See you real soon!), K-E-Y (Why? Because we like you!), M-O-U-S-E!
Seriously, I have WAY too much time on my hands. Thanks, girls, for making it such a fun party and for sharing my love of all-things-Disney! You're the best!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

You Guys ROCK!!!

You know, I love it when I can see that people are actually reading my blog. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. And totally pumped.

So a few days ago I mentioned that I really wanted to be read in all 50 states by my one-year blogaversary (again, is that a word?). At the time of the post, I was only being read in 34 states. Today's reading? 40!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!

I know it's a silly goal but sometimes you just have to be silly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

And Now I'm LIke 100 Years Old...

Today was a long day at work. It was an 8 1/2 hour day and with the exception of about 30 minutes, I was on my feet for most of it. By the time I got home, I was exhausted, mentally and physically. So I arrive at home, chat with Nick, check the phone messages and just sit for a little bit. We're trying to get Nick out and driving more so I asked him if he wanted to go for a drive. He readily agreed and we were getting ourselves together when I go to call Michael in. He was outside playing with a friend.

But he wasn't.

I called and called and called. No answer. I mean, I'm a loud person and I am pretty much screaming across the yard for him and he doesn't answer. So we hop in the car and drive around the block to his friend's house. No one is home. Okay, NOW I'm freaking out. I check our house, I check our yard. No Michael. I call out for him again. No answer. I call Frank in near hysteria and tell him that I cannot find Michael. He says he's on his way.

I left Nick at the house and hopped in my car and drove all around the neighborhood like a dozen times. No Michael. Nick went out in to the yard and called for him. No Michael. Now the neighbors are coming out and wanting to see what is going on. I'm driving around praying and crying. Every person I saw walking on the street suddenly, in my mind, became a child predator. I'm thinking that I should be stopping and showing his picture to people. I see a police car and I contemplate going to him. Frank and I meet up at the end of our block and I'm just crying "I can't find him!" He reminds me that it is all going to be okay and reassures me that we are going to find him.

And he did.

Three minutes later.

Riding his bike, happy as a clam, with his friend Joe and Joe's sister.

Three hours later, I still have a knot in my stomach. I hugged him extra long and extra tight when he went to bed. He has been reminded of all the ways that he is to tell us EXACTLY where he is going to be at all times. And for the love of it, when you are going for a bike ride, TELL SOMEONE!!

There are days when motherhood is just too hard.