I've had the worst bout of insomnia last night! Woke up at 12:45 a.m. and couldn't fall back asleep. That has made me too tired to blog today. Fuck NaBloPoMo! Two more days and I'm done!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I'm not sure why, but I have access to an aspiring writer's forum. I think it goes without saying that unless you want an article about using Linkin Park to teach Supply Chain Management, I'm not ever getting paid to write anything. But I belong to this forum anyway and here was December's prompt:
Prompt #2: Your family isn't cooperating with your writing career, so you've decided to go on strike. Write a list of demands that must be met in order for you to return to your chores and household responsibilities. (Don't forget to make a concession or two to speed up the negotiation process.)
This is what it will take for me to resume my role as Queen of my House:
1. [Shrek] must renounce the New York Yankees and swear Fealty to the Redskins as well as the Pack.
2. Sinistrum (a Die Hard Conservative) must vote Democrat in the 2008 election (I'll grant a waiver if that means voting for Hillary).
3. A new Mercedes a day for a year.
4. A good check deposited into my account (that would be certified funds in Euros) for an amount equivalent to the U.S. National Debt.
I am conceding, of course, that my son can still be loyal to the Packers.
If you're curious about how "In the End" becomes a supply chain lesson, drop a comment and I'll 'splain everything.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I, for one of thousands, will be very glad when NaBloPoMo is finished. The pressure! The pressure to write something worth your reading every single day has been horrendous.
I mean, do you really care that last night I had the strangest dream of my adult life? I like to call it a "heartburn dream" because I think certain foods make your brain do weird things. This particular dream involved the Sarge and I living in an old farm house. We pulled out the stove to clean and found a whole dead fish behind it. I mean a whole. dead. fish. Head on, scales, everything. Well this fish turned into a real live crocodile and started heading my way. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the dream ends (although I do remember a broom handle) because I woke up. Damn.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
This pasta making is so fun! Today we did spaghetti.
In other news, we've sent the Evites for the party I think no one will attend, well except that one of the nicest, most genuine people I know is coming and bringing her hubby and her mommy. Not only that, she's offered to make us a cake and her cakes are fabulous. She makes cakes like this:
The picture doesn't do it justice. This cake was in honor of Bratticus' graduation and based on the book Good Omens by two of Brat's favorite (or is it favourite, Tal?) authors: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I digress...
This phenomenal woman has offered up a cake for us as well. Isn't that awesome? I'm going to have to pick her brain for what type of cake would be appropriate for the event. Any ideas?
I could use some menu ideas as well. Because the reaffirmation of our vows is at 4:00 p.m., we're almost obligated to do dinner afterwards. Could I still do tapas or some kind of finger food? It would be so much simpler!? And the propensity of most on our guest list to either RSVP "yes" and not show up or not RSVP and show up anyway, there could be 20 people or sixty people. I think small plates are best, but how do I do that well with no budget? Yeah, please re-visit all of my lamentations on brokedom. They still definitely apply. Anyhoo, ideas? Thanks!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
We have a day off together - the first in forever and one of the last for awhile - and play with our mixer. Last spring, before the world imploded, we splurged with our tax refund on a Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer and each selected an accessory. Sarge picked a meat grinder (and I threw a sausage stuffer in with it when I placed the order) and I picked a pasta maker. I used to have one of those hand crank jobs and got rid of it because it was kind of a pain in the ass. This baby makes it a whole lot easier and the outcome is, may I say? Delicious.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Done shopping? Frankly, and don't take this the wrong way, I think anyone who went shopping today needs a psych evaluation. I tenuously ventured forth to the local outlet of the evil empire for flour, yeast and a handful of other groceries and that was it! Surprisingly, the store was not crowded at all. I asked the cashier if she'd been busy earlier and her reply was sort of surprising. First off because evil empire cashiers can be a bit surly around these parts and second, her reply seemed logical. "People aren't shopping as much this year. They're worried about fuel prices."
Well, that is one thing I am thankful for here. Our utilities are covered by the government so heat is one bill we don't have to worry about here. Of course, we're still heating the monkey on our back and who knows how long that will be an issue, but here, we don't stress about the heat. Nice, because it's cold today.
Another thing I am thankful for is that my hubby doesn't read my blog. If he did, he would know that I must admit he's right once in awhile. In fact, I had to confess that to him this morning. Bummer. I got ready to take the dogs for a walk and he questioned my judgement not wearing a hat (don't own one) or gloves. I replied that it wasn't that cold and went off without them. Five minutes later ( five minutes) and my hands were freezing! Next time I'll know better.
I hope all nine of my loyal readers enjoyed themselves yesterday. We did. Thanks for reading.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Played cards. (Euchre, lost)
Tomorrow I shall blog better.
Have a wonderful evening.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Finding things to write about is a bitch! So I did what most sensible folks do and Googled Blog Prompts. Today's prompt:
Ten Things I'd Like To Learn:
1. Russian. I fully intend to travel to Russia again someday and I hate being dependent on a translator.
2. Spanish. Are you seeing a trend? I'm humbled and a bit embarrassed by this old joke:
"What do you call someone who speaks two languages?"
"What do you call someone who speaks three languages?"
"What do you call someone who speaks one language?"
3. I'll lump the rest of the languages here: Italian, French, Norwegian (because that's my heritage) and whatever others I've an opportunity to try.
4. How to make amazing tapas. Like this place. Oh how I miss you!
5. Ballroom dancing. You know, in case I'm ever invited to the White House.
6. How to throw pots. I have a vision of this type of pottery as relaxing since it likely requires one's entire focus. If you let the stuff that's bothering you into your mind, the pot is messed up. The stress likely snowballs from there. It's part of why I like knitting. You have to focus on the knitting not the stuff that's pissing you off otherwise or your knitting becomes part of the stuff that's pissing you off. Know what I mean?
7. How to not hate balancing my checkbook. My tenure as a personal banker created an intense loathing of this task and it has come back to haunt me more than once. Ugh. But I can't get past how much I hate balancing my checkbook.
8. How to throw a really great party. You know, the kind people that people really feel lucky to come to and can't wait to come again.
9. I'd love to take some cooking classes in general. Cooking is fun for me and it would certainly help with number 4 and number 8 on this list, wouldn't it?
10. How to get my laundry done without actually having to do it. If I have to explain this to you because you don't mind laundry, you should just come over and do mine too and help me reach this goal.
What about you? What ten things would you like to learn?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Khan brings you holiday cheer! Last Friday at Grandma's house, she gave him several (a dozen?) beanie toys representing Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, including The Island of Misfit Toys. After seeing a commercial for Christmas, His Excellency decided that he'd use them to decorate.
"Mama! We have to decorate for Christmas!"
Here is the result. Enjoy!
Monday, November 19, 2007
I'm pressed for time today because I had issues connecting to Blogger. Tomorrow you will see what happens when the Khan decorates for Christmas!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Graduation day! After seven years of hit-or-miss educational endeavors, the day had finally come when I could say that I was a college graduate. I walked and it felt good. We had a few more months of financial worry until I landed my first "real" job after college. Coincidentally, my first "real" job after college bore a striking resemblance to the last "real" job I had before going back to finish. Two crucial differences: One, I could walk to work before and now I was driving an hour and fifteen minutes each way. Two, I made a lot more money.
And so began a period of relative prosperity. I neglected to mention in the last post the fateful day in August 1996 when I was diagnosed with Ideopathic Cystoid Macular Edema - later to be named Pars Planitis (the underlying cause of the CME) in my left eye. At any given time, my vision could go from 20/20 (corrected, of course) to 20/200 or worse in my left eye. It waxed and waned off and on over the years - just enough to complicate college, you know? But for some reason after graduation, I had maybe one flare up in three years. Weird. I worked for a Garden Tools company and we finally felt like we could get somewhere financially. Finally. Little did we realize that our sense of security was a false one.
Paul and I really love being parents. We're not perfect parents, but we do try our best and I think, for the most part, the kids are turning out okay. Having children together was something we'd tried to make happen before but for reasons I'm not defining in this blog, it just didn't work that way. But, as I've also said previously in this blog, sometimes God has plans for you that will be revealed when you're ready to listen with your whole heart. So it was with us.
Friends of ours adopted twin babies in a domestic adoption in 2001. Around the middle of 2002, I started thinking that adoption might be an option for us as well. We could be parents without making our own. I didn't feel like being pregnant anyway. In my opinion, being pregnant is highly over rated. Keep your heartburn and swollen ankles thanks. I'll pass.
My friend the adoptive mom spoke in a panel discussion and, on my request, brought me some information about adoption options. Paul and I perused them and scheduled an appointment for more information in September 2002. At that meeting, our social worker was very candid about our chances for domestic adoption and laid out the options for international very well. We just wanted to be parents together, you know? It is so completely different to raise kids with someone you can stand to talk to! As usual, we were on the same page and informed our social worker we were interested in international programs and would let her know which of the options we'd pursue. By the time we'd walked back to our car, we'd agreed on Russia. Our decision was based on the fact that there are so many kids in Russia awaiting families and that we wanted to adopt from someplace we had an interest in traveling to. Logical? We certainly thought so.
But the funding? Ah the funding... What were we thinking? International Adoption is ridiculously expensive and we'd just recovered from 10 years of broke-dom. I still don't know what we were thinking when we started. We agreed that we'd find a way. After all, you don't get the whole bill at once, right? So we went for it. We paid our application fee and started working our way through the mountain of paperwork required for a Russian Adoption. At the end of October, we had our homestudy visit. I've blogged about that before so you know how difficult that was. Seeing all those pictures of kids needing families was and still is the most difficult thing. Even today, as my six readers know, sad faces of small children in orphanages around the world pull my heartstrings hard.
Immediately, however, we knew that The Senator would be our son no matter what it took. Go back to this post and look at those eyes. Tell me you could have done otherwise.
The way pieces fell into place for our adoption still amazes me. First, my company unveiled their new benefits package in November (not two weeks after our homestudy, I tell you) and they had added adoption benefits for 2003. Next, a thorough search of Army benefits revealed an adoption benefit as well. It really looked like God was on our side in this one and He was. We worked our way through the process with great anticipation and faith that everything would be just fine. And it was. We brought the boys home in September 2003 and it has been amazing. We feel very blessed by those boys to this day.
However, things kind of started going to hell in a handbasket in other aspects of life during this same time. When you're adopting, you want everything to go perfectly. Always vigilant for things that could go wrong, we wanted to be sure that all the I's were dotted and the T's crossed so that the Russian authorities had no reason to reject our application. The Social Worker had hinted that our living in military housing might cause concern and we'd been thinking that the write offs associated with home ownership might be a good idea. So, after some searching, we found a fixer-upper (meaning a single man had lived in it and the decor was hideous so we though we'd just carpet and paint and fix up the kitchen a bit) just a couple of miles out of town and made an offer. We closed on January 3, 2003. Yes, we did all the due diligence stuff: a home inspection, a well and septic test and insulated ourselves against the fact that the well needed to be replaced. The seller paid for that. Would you expect problems after that? Well, neither did we.
We closed on January 3 and moved in about two weeks later after totally re-painting the inside and replacing all the carpet on the first floor. We put in new kitchen appliances and the place was pretty cool. It was home and we owned it. Nice, huh? I wish. The first night we were in the house - I swear! There came a horrible noise emanating from the basement. The Well Pump had failed. The well that we thought would be replaced in the spring needed to be replaced now except that it was January in Wisconsin and the ground was frozen. We limped along until March.
March came, the ground was thawed sufficiently for the new well. It was drilled and reconnected and the water was orange. That's right, kids, rust. We needed to have a filter installed to eliminate the rust in our water so that our clothes, appliances and fixtures weren't destroyed any further. Three grand, if I remember correctly. Then it got really grand. We had the filter installed by the same company that had done our well and septic inspection and, upon installing the filter, they informed us they were unable to connect it because our septic system needed to be replaced. Excuse the fuck out of me? Three months ago, sir, your company told us the septic was fine. Had you told us it was not fine, we would not have bought the house. Something is fishy and that something is you. So, rather than a ten thousand dollar bill, we had a $4,500 bill for replacing our septic system (evidently the price drops when you mention calling a lawyer)- coincidentally not done until we were in Russia. The house was dubbed "The Money Pit". I've never seen the movie, I've lived the movie.
Also around March, my employer went through a reorganization and I got a new boss. new boss that I was, apparently, the wrong gender to work for. What a horse's ass this guy was. Instantly, my work environment went from tolerable to hell. But we were adopting, we were living in the Money Pit. I had no choices because jobs are hard to come by and we definitely needed the money. I perservered - at least for a while. This particular boss was absolutely the worst sort. Abrasive, rude and generally uncommunicative. You couldn't find him when you needed him. Only his favorite (former) employees had his cell phone number, he didn't answer e-mail and we disagreed about everything. His boss agreed with me which only made my life worse. I was garbage and treated that way until one day I'd just had enough. Going to work made me weepy and nauseous and after driving two hours to work with my boss and having him not be there again and getting a scathing e-mail about the fact that I didn't do things the way my predecessor had (my methods had been proven to be better, but they were different than his and he didn't like being wrong), I closed my laptop, handed it to the boss's pet and walked out. Three weeks before our trip to Russia, I walked out of my job. That was the lowest point of my life thus far. I've been lower since, but it was bad.
After a day or two to cool off, I had a talk with HR and agreed I'd go back for the two weeks before I went to Russia in exchange for a severance package. I believe they knew I could sue and wanted to prevent that. I merely told them to watch my boss. He's not nice to people and that should not be tolerated. I went back, they hired a replacement that I worked with for two days and she was gone by the time I returned from Russia two weeks later. That spoke volumes about the work environment my boss had created. I knew I'd made the right choice but now I had no job and two more kids to support.
Looking back, I think that the day I walked out of my job was the turning point for the downward spiral we're still on. After sub-teaching for a couple of months, I realized that I really needed to restore my income to its previous level and started looking for a new opportunity. Be careful what you wish for, dear readers, because not all new opportunities are good ones. In Mid-November I began the interview process that led us to Michigan and the worst employment experience of my life. Working for the company I worked for in Michigan was like working at a Middle School. Being the kind of person that relishes a challenge and readily embraces change, I found this culture to be just the opposite. Every day was a battle. First to become relevant and then to stay sane. On the good side, I learned a lot about what I'm made of and I definitely sharpened my skills as a Business Analyst but on the bad side, the pars planitis returned (in the right eye this time) and I nearly lost my mind. During my 18 months or so with this company, I was diagnosed with depression and met my friend Lexapro. I remember sitting tearfully in my doctor's office explaining my situation and her saying "I think you need to find another job." Also, in April of that year, Paul got orders for OIF. In July, I left my job to save my sanity and go to graduate school. I estimated that I'd be finished with my degree about the time he returned. I almost pulled it off!
In parallel to the whole job change thing, the family was required to move to Michigan. Paul and I agreed that the kids and I would go and he'd look for a position over there. My offer included relocation assistance so we weren't worried. We should have been. During the process of relocation, certain subtle nuances about the money pit that should have come up during our home inspection were revealed to us. Faulty wiring, illegal stairs... you name it. Say hello to spending another huge chunk of cash to get the house ready to sell at a substantial loss. On the Money Pit, we lost at least twenty grand. Why? Well, never trust your realtor to hire your home inspector. She hired them so they were working to get her the sale not to be fair with us. When the electrician looks at your wiring and tells you "you should have gotten a home inspection before you bought this place" it is a horrible feeling. We learned a very valuable lesson and an extremely expensive one. But that house did sell and
being idiots wanting to create a sense of stability for our kids, we bought the monkey on our back now.
Back to July, 2005: Paul went to Kuwait and I was very thankful knowing that he was in Kuwait rather than Iraq. He traveled back and forth, but we had agreed he wouldn't tell me about those trips until they were over. In Iraq, you see, it's not where you are that gets you killed, it's the commute. It worked okay. We talked often by phone and instant messenger and got through the year. I was in school and working part-time and the kids were not causing me stress. The pars planitis, however, was at its worst. Once again, this disease reared its ugly head and I marked a few milestones while Paul was gone. 1. The first time it flared up in both eyes at once. Double shots! Yay! 2. The first time the "behind the eye" method of the shot didn't do the trick. Inter-ocular Kenalog a week later! Yay! 3. Firing an ophthalmologist! This is a yay! I switched to the best doctor ever. 4. Last, but not least, acquiring a cataract as a side effect of the steroid treatments. It was lovely. I already have some permanent damage to the left eye from the repeated flare ups and now I was looking at 20/200 vision or worse in the right eye between episodes of inflammation and the rapidly growing cataract. How fast? Well, in April 2006 the doctor told me about it but said "Well, hopefully it will be ten years before we need to do something about it" but by September it was "We need to get your vision stable so we can remove this" and in January of this year the cataract was removed. Fortunately, no flare ups since then and I have excellent distance vision with contacts now. Unfortunately, I have to wear reading glasses to see anything close and that makes me feel really old.
But we count our blessings where we can and definitely did when Paul got home safely in September 2006. That was a tremendous relief. I was almost done with school and he was definitely ready to move. The job he had in Michigan was a two-hour commute each way and a lot more TDY than either of us wanted after he'd been away for a year. He got the chance to come to Fort McCoy again and we took it.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Married! The next few years are, frankly, a blur at this point. Young, poor and crazy in love, we made our way the best we could. I was in school and working my ass off when we could afford it and working my ass off when we couldn't afford the school part. Hard work and hard luck were the name of the game at this point. But we got through and what kept us moving through was each other.
The biggest sources of stress before, during, and after our marriage were money and kids. In other words, we were no different than anyone else. The situation with La Reina and Squidward, however, was nothing short of hellish. Their mother was and is emotionally manipulative to the point of abusive really. She used the kids to try to control Paul and got meaner when it didn't work. It was heart-breaking to get them on Friday afternoon, watch and help them decompress because of the stark differences between their two homes and then watch them stress-up again on Sunday. Looking back, it doesn't seem like a big deal because we got through it but I can assure you that living through it was hell. The kids wanted to be with us and made no secret of it to either parent and that just made things worse.
So, further contributing to our brokeness was the pettiness of people who shall not be named and the constant struggle to not only do the right thing and stay on the high road but to try and compel other people to do so as well. Are we perfect parents? Not even close, but we always put the kids first and I think they know that and they know we did our best.
The entire situation came to a head in 1998 when, on a crisp Friday afternoon in October La Reina announced to her father as he picked her and Squid up for the weekend that she wasn't going back to her mom's on Sunday. She'd been promised (by her mother) that when she was 13 she could decide where she'd live. She was 14 and she'd decided to call her mother's bluff. We had been wanting full custody for so long and spent so much energy and money we didn't have trying to just get an equitable arrangement that this really struck fear deep in our hearts. We knew it was about to get ugly and it did. Bowing to his daughter's wishes, Paul didn't force her to return to her mother's on Sunday and so began a three year long expose into
what a petty bitch Paul's ex is the ugliness of the human psyche.
First, there were the phone calls, of course, and the head trips. When that didn't work (remember how much I love caller ID?), La Reina's mother literally forced her to return to her home with the police in tow after she'd been with us about three weeks and was starting to think that things would be okay. It was a head trip, remember? One for the ages. And then, of course, the lawyers were involved followed by the therapist and the mediator and finally, we had custody of La Reina and 50/50 placement of Squid. Remember, you take what you can get. We were reasonably happy with the situation if for no other reason that La Reina was getting a chance for the life she wanted. It was good and we'd wait for Squid. We waited a long time.
Through this mess, Paul was hoping to get a full-time Army Reserve position. Primarily, we really wanted to get out of Dodge, you know? Escape the stalkers and the complainers and hopefully have a chance at something different than we had. The first time he got an offer it was Fort Totten, New York. We thought about that for about ten seconds before saying no. We didn't feel like moving our kids from podunk Sparta to New York City was a good idea. Say nothing of dealing with our exes about making the move. UGH! We passed and tried again.
The next opportunity came in April 1999. The phone rang just as Paul was packing for ANCOC phase 2 in Virginia. Would he be interested in a position at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin? We laughed for about five minutes. Then we did the math: double Paul's income, free insurance, staying put until the kids were older (since the custody crap wasn't quite finished yet - turns out she had eight years of bullshit left in her) and decided that, yes, we'd take an AGR tour in our hometown for then next three to five years. We had hoped entering the AGR program would take us away, but sometimes God has plans for us that he does not reveal until we're ready.
I made plans to go back to school and finally finish my degree. Life was good. In December 2000, my degree was (finally!) finished.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Roommates! Weird, right? Three weeks into a committed relationship we were living together - as much out of financial convenience as out of love at this point, but we were young, broke, in love and extremely happy with each other's company.
I wish I could say it was all roses but what did we expect? When your parents don't meet your new significant other until after you move in together, they don't take it well. I still remember Paul's introduction to my father. My father called threatening to kick his ass. Nice, huh? Of course, on the flip side, my mother met my in-laws as I was showing her the house. The master bedroom was upstairs and my brother-in-law John walked in the front door hollering "Dammit! Are you two upstairs in the swing again?" Whoops! Meet my mother. Needless to say, these were first impressions that lasted a long, long time. Priceless.
I suspect my mother-in-law thought I was some kind of gold digger because, you know, young, single mom... I had to be after only one thing. I was but she was guessing the wrong thing. *wink*
And, of course, the exes had to be assholes because that is what they do. Before me, Paul got his kids every single night that his ex had to work. After me: none of them. Only the mandated every other weekend. Like I said, she's a bitch. She also called at least once a day for the entire first year we were together. For the next year or so, it was on the average every day before she finally tapered off. To this day, we really get apprehensive about taking calls after 9:00 at night. This was like clock work. Every night, 9:30, Paul's ex calling to bitch. Thanks.
I had a stalker too. But I'm not going to talk about that. It was kind of scary and it's part of the reason why I think Caller ID is the GREATEST. INVENTION. EVER. Once we got it, we used it judiciously. It solved a lot of problems, let me tell you.
But you know what? We were still good. There was a lot of love there. The kids all got along, for the most part. Paul's kids didn't like too much that my kids had their dad all the time and they had him as little as they did, but they got over it. It was kind of unsettling how they started calling me "Mom" with no prompting. My kids would never have done that with their step-mother but Paul's kids did it well before we were even engaged. All of those bad stories about blending families and all that just never happened. The girls were like sisters right away and the boys learned to respect differences. They fought a bit but for the most part they learned that they had nothing in common and stayed out of one another's way. Fine.
About a month into this cozy cohabitation arrangement, we started talking marriage. We'd both been married before but had decided that what we had working this time was so much better than that. It seemed inevitable that we'd make our living in sin a little less sinful. We got our rings from my friend Andrea who had just broken an engagement. They were beautiful little white gold rings with the tiniest diamond in the engagement ring that she'd gotten at a Going-out-of-Business sale or some such. She'd broken her engagement so she sent the rings to us. I remember the night they came in the mail. I got home from work and Paul was standing in the kitchen with the box. He proposed and, of course, I accepted. I will happily take his hand forever and he is most welcome to mine too.
We were really in no hurry on the whole being married thing. In fact, the rings were so thin that I just wore both of them. Married in your mind is married, right? Well, that's how we felt about it. We were in the groove for about a year.
Toward the end of 1994, we started thinking about how
Paul had gotten screwed over on his tax return the year before much simpler it would be if we could just file a joint tax return. The 1993 tax year, I'd gotten a bunch back as head of household, but because he filed as a single person, he had to pay in. Remember we were flat-ass broke so the refund was spent before it arrived helpful and having to pay in was a pain. Pragmatists that we are, we decided that perhaps we should be married before the year was over to avoid another tax liability for Paul. Yes, kids. We got married because of the IRS.
So we called the judge, got the license and planned the shindig for New Year's Eve. The catering was provided by Sam's Club, the invitations printed on the laser printer in the Office of International Education at the University, and the ceremony was lovely. My sister and my daughters stood up for me and Paul's brother and his sons stood up for him. It was all we needed and the rest, history.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I have known my husband for twenty-three years. We've been together for fourteen of them. We originally met when I was 16 and had my first job at a local discount store. He worked there too. When you're sixteen you don't think about who does what or how things go together, but he was funny. He was married and had a brand new baby girl that he was really proud of. Mostly, when we worked together he was nice to me and made me laugh.
We probably would have met sooner if it weren't for the age difference. He is, after all, a whole four years older than I. We went to the same elementary school but what does a Kindergarten kid care about a third grader? More importantly, what does a third grader care about a kindergartener? Not one whit, I tell you! However, his next youngest sibling (a sister) and another girl who's now my sister-in-law were in my class. Both of us had the same kindergarten teacher but different teachers in first and second grade - in case you were wondering. We did have the same third-grade teacher, Ms. Engen. She was mean but Paul liked her. I didn't. She was MEAN!
Back to 1984: The nights at work were always nicer when he was there. He was just nice to me and showed me how to do things the right way and usually he managed to keep me in stitches all night long. When I lost my job (for reasons neither of us really knows), his face was the last one I saw as I left the store. The look of compassion and concern on his face was one I won't forget.
Fast Forward: For a few years after that, we both kind of did our thing. He was married, raising La Reina, joined the Army and became a father of two - La Reina and Squidward. He ended up divorced, working as a logger for a bit and found himself at a local manufacturing company. One of the things I admire about my husband is that he works hard. He's never been afraid to and he's always given 100% to everything that he does.
Me? Well, I finished high school, spent a semester in college, married PDB, gave birth to Shrek and Bratticus, divorced and was doing my thing too. I found work as a nursing assistant and got certified when I came home with my kids from Germany. It was good work, rewarding, and I did a lot of it. (For a brief period I actually worked with his ex. I thought she was a bitch then and I think she's a bitch now - my relationship with Paul and his kids notwithstanding) I went for a six or seven week stretch while I was in certification training without one day off between my two jobs and CNA training. I guess the lack of fear of hard work is something we share.
Around this time, it was probably late winter 1992 or early 1993, we happened to cross paths again. Being from Sparta, Wisconsin; most "How we met" stories begin in a bar and this is no different. I was out with my friends, he with his and we nearly literally bumped into one another. I believe the exact words I said were "Holy shit! How have you been?" and we spent some time talking, laughing and shared a dance or two. I gave him my number and he never called.
And so it went off and on through the early to middle part of 1993. We'd run into one another, have some fun, part ways with him having my number and he'd lose it. Again. I'll never forget the time I teased him about coming over and making me breakfast only to find that he'd hung donuts on my doorknob on his way to drill that morning. Remember, we weren't having overnight visits yet. That memory, among many others, always makes me smile. Paul's just that kind of guy. He's not one for grandiose gestures, but he manages to make the little things count.
Finally, I think it was the Fourth of July, we ran into one another and the same script played out. I gave him my number on a cocktail napkin as we parted ways. Oh... maybe it was later than July 4 because not long after began a series of nightly phone calls. Every night for a couple of hours we'd talk on the phone. By then, I'd moved to La Crosse and was preparing to go back to school and finish my B.S. in the fall. I'd switched jobs and was working at S**rs in order to enhance my marketing expertise. I was originally a marketing major, you see, but switched because I heard the classes were boring. I believe they may be still. But I lived in La Crosse and Paul lived in Sparta above a hair salon where he'd trade food for laundry service. He's a great cook so the girls that worked in the salon would come up and raid his fridge doing his laundry in return. But I'd put the kids to bed after getting home from work and by 10:00 my phone would ring. It'd be Paul calling to talk at the end of his work day. Each call was always an hour, usually more. It was a great thing to look forward to at the end of the day, you know? He's got this great baritone sort of speaking voice that's warm and soothing when I need it most.
My memory gets a bit fuzzy for a few weeks, but I remember the weekend after Labor Day. He stopped by to see me after drill (this is how I know it was the weekend after Labor Day - I still remember his drill schedule back then) for a visit. It was awesome. He met the kids and the kids liked him a lot. Unfortunately, my grandmother was also going to be stopping by and
because my family is crazy because I didn't feel like we were at the meet-the-relatives stage, I shooed him out. He used to tease me until he realized my family is full-on crazy some of the aspects that make my family special.
And then he kissed me. We were standing on the corner of Court and Franklin Street and it was a world-stopping moment. I don't remember the specific day but we were walking back to my grandparents. The world hasn't been the same since.
After that time went by in a flash. Our first overnight visit, September 25, 1993 (his place, if you're curious), I remember he had to move his kids out of the bed. I can't really make it weird or anything like that and this isn't a pron blog so I won't give details other than how it showed me exactly what kind of man I was in love with. He divided his time handily between me and checking on his kids in the next room. He also gamely took the ration of shit that he got the next day after his nephew, the babysitter, informed his family that Paul had brought a woman home. My family was, naturally, clueless. We'd both had family weddings the night before and when grandma asked to take my kids home with her, well, who was I to argue?
After that, of course, our nightly phone conversations took on a different tack. He'd call, too tired to drive over. We'd talk for a bit and hang up. Inevitably, several times a week about half an hour after hanging up the phone, I'd get a knock at my door. I guess I'm irresistible. Who knew?
Back then, for both of us, the word of the day was broke. We were both scraping by and working like hell to make ends meet. I was a full-time student and working as much as I could. I paid my bills and never took one cent of public assistance. That means more to me than you'll ever know. Paul paid his bills too. His ex was (and is) a bitch about everything, but when he didn't work, he had his kids most weeknights and spent time being a great dad and the best boyfriend a girl could ask for. He was planning on moving from his apartment to a house that his brother owned. Since we were both looking at astronomical phone bills and general frustration from our financial strain in addition to the fact that, cliche as it sounds, being together just seemed right. It was never difficult to be together. We had stuff to talk about, things to do (not just that you perv!) and being together brightened the rest of the dark spots. Paul asked if I'd be interested in moving in with him. I said yes. Three weeks after our first slumber party, we were roommates. It was awesome.
Stay tuned for part deux...
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Of the year.
Yes, kids. I'm talking about Christmas. It is over a month away and already we're bombarded with it. Looming darkly on the horizon we have a testament not to the birth of our Savior, but to rampant commercialism, family
disfunction fun, and lots and lots of holiday stress. Here's a not so little known fact: I HATE CHRISTMAS. I'm thinking of skipping the whole thing. I hate shopping. I hate stressing over whether I bought the right gift for the right person and I... Well, I just hate Christmas. Factor in the monkey on our back and the shittiness of life in general and it just seems like too much work. Perhaps I will just lay down on the 23rd of December for a nap and wake up on the 30th.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
In order to keep teaching long-term (with any kind of job security and livable wage), I need a PhD. So I ask you:
Monday, November 12, 2007
But I can't. I've got a terrible habit that has pained me for about, oh... 25 years. Maybe more. Since the days of this guy:
And this guy:
See, back then? They were like dark chocolate. So good. Rewarding. Basking in the glow of victory. It was, for lack of a better word, AWESOME to be a Redskins fan. Suck it Cowboys. We're winners. We've won super bowls. You? You're America's Most Wanted Team. We had The Coach, The Hogs, the Diesel and the Piglet. We. Had. It. All.
And, like crack, you hooked me. The Redskins and I were one. I shared your success. I mourned your losses. Your heartbreak was my heartbreak. Every year since 1991, you have broken my heart. Thanks. I'll be over here crying in my beer. Please, if it's not too much trouble? Could you finish the year 10 and 6? Thanks. Making the playoffs would be even better. Beating the Cowboys in Dallas this week? That would be PRICELESS!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
He's just amazing, this kid. I know, right? Your kids are amazing too but my kid...
The Senator is described a lot of ways. A co-worker of the Sarge described him as "this little man. You expect him to be wearing a little bow tie. He talks like a small adult." We hear this a lot because it's true.
He has always done this. From our first day out with him when he walked up to Sascha, the guard at the house we stayed at; stuck his hand out swiftly and introduced himself to today. Today we've got new neighbors. This is army housing. We always have new neighbors. He wanted to go over and introduce himself and he did. I, his introverted mother, have no idea who they are but he knows their names and that they have a fifth-grade daughter.
Do you read Post Secret? I do. The premise of Post Secret is that people send in postcards with their secrets on and they get posted to the web every Sunday. Sometimes there are cards that really hit home. Today there's one of a little boy. It says "We just adopted this little boy from Russia. He has changed my life more than he'll ever know". I agree.
Our little Senator has gone from this:
(This picture, by the way, was taken the same day that he confidently introduced himself to the guard in Buryatia)
And finally this:
The neighborhood welcoming committee.
Senator, you are awesome and I love you so much. Thank you for being such a great person that I am inspired to try and be a better person too.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Sometimes blog posts roll around in my brain ('cause there's lots of room) for days, weeks, months before they make it to the blog. Other times they never make it at all. Since I started this thing - when did I start this thing? Oh, February 8th. It seems longer. I digress.
Since I started this thing, I've posted some funny stuff and some not so funny stuff. I think I should resurrect SOB of the Week. I miss that. Anyway, I sometimes write just kind of stream of consciousness and this, kids... this would be one of those times.
I haven't got much of a mind, really. I'm still sort of confused and startled by the whole "being an academic type" thing. Most days, its a definite "square-peg, round-hole" sort of feeling. I believe that that is mostly because I am not so far removed from the real world of business that I can not care whether my students get something useful. And, frankly, I've never been much for research and theory. Get my hands dirty! Show me how stuff really works and let me try it. Kick me out of the safe confines of University with skills that an employer wants. Show me what I am capable of. Thanks. That's what I'm shooting for but most days, I feel like I'm screwing the proverbial pooch. But "Ask and you shall receive" right? I have asked the students to tell me how to reach them and they are telling me. An honest question gives an honest answer! Who knew?
I know my teaching will get better. But I also know that the pay will always suck. Despite what you read about overpaid teachers, I can tell you first-hand that it ain't true. My degree is worth twice as much outside of academia - easily. So I battle with myself. Myself is a real bitch because we fight about it every day.
What is worth more? Doing work that you like a lot and expect to love eventually while you can or finding a nice, lucrative business analyst, project manager or other position that might open doors to the kind of life you thought you were working for? In my current position, I will never be promoted, per se. I'm not even in a budgeted position so if cost cuts come at the expense of jobs, mine's the first to go. Why? I'm the only non-budgeted position in my department. I will go first. And our lovely state is loath to give higher education funding increases. Then they wonder why college graduates leave. THAT is simple. You don't value us so fuck you. Why stay in Wisconin with a degree that's worth $10K more across the border? And don't give me that cost of living shit because it's just not that different. And especially when you figure with a master's degree, my salary coming back here is $10K LESS per year than my first real job after college graduation and Thirty Thousand Dollars less than my last full-time position. Dammit... digression again.
From where I sit, this is how it looks. We'll most likely be doing a "short-sale" on our house in the very near future. Fabulous right? That means we'll avoid foreclosure on our credit rating, but the short-sale may do almost as much damage. And, because we've got a VA guarantee, if we ever try to buy a house again; we will probably have to make good on the VA's loss. So much for no down payment, huh? Either way, the next time we buy a house (looks like never ever again at this point) we'll need a large chunk of cash. We never seem to have a large chunk of cash. We almost did once, but then we did an adoption or two which was amazing and wonderful and I don't regret one bit. The problem was after that, the world went to shit. First one money pit house that we lost $20K on the sale of. Then, Michigan, the job from hell, pars planitis and the year from hell with Paul in Kuwait. Our reward for these tribulations? Cutting our monthly income in half, losing at least $30K on the sale of our house in Michigan and a feeling of complete and utter despair.
Why despair you say? We're healthy, mostly happy (at least we are working very hard on that) and the kids are great. Because. Because I work at a University that pays me so well I can't afford to pay my daughter's tuition to go there. And, no. Children of staff don't get free tuition. I hear that kids of Tenured Faculty do but I'm not tenured and never will be. I'll be on a one year contract for as long as I'm there. Even if I found myself in a budgeted position, I'm looking at a two year renewal max.
And because. Because of the dream/hope/wish that will not die. I wish I could let go. I wish there was a gene in my DNA that would let me give up because it is hopeless. But there is not and I have no idea what to do. I can;'t stop thinking about them (and lots of other kids that need parents). Please remember that the Sharps are crazy and even eight may not be enough. I want to help as many kids as I can that would not have a normal life otherwise. Kids with minor medical issues that are easily corrected but would not be if they stayed where they were. If you sent me a picture of any kids with strabismus in particular right now, I'd be a bigger mess than I already am.
But we're probably $45K away from another adoption. Unlike most couples that adopt, we've got no home equity to tap and no realistic hopes for any other type of credit. Thanks West Michigan Real Estate market! Thanks 5/3! THANK YOU WISCONSIN! Because of Sarge's schedule, a second job isn't really viable. I'd pay everything I made out in daycare. So I don't know what to do. I'm open to suggestions. Got any?
What exactly am I wishing for? Well, a break mostly. It has been so long since anything feels like it went our way. I'm craving stability. I'm craving security. I want to know that I am loved. I want to not worry about taking care of my family. I want to help Bratticus with her college bills. And I want to be Indira and Nargiza's mom. And, possibly, some other kids' mom too. I guess that's asking too much but it doesn't seem fair.
I'd ask for advice on fundraising or career planning or saving my sanity, but that seems like a lot to dump on my six loyal readers (or one bloglines subscriber - thanks Tal!). So I'm just going to say thanks. Thanks for reading. I know lots of times this blog really sucks.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Of the universe the first thing I would do is ban standardized testing. I understand the need to measure learning and progress, but that's not what we're doing. We've got substandard teachers teaching to the test and only to the test. Our kids are learning nothing and that's not fair. We won't talk about the valuable learning time they lose taking the stupid thing!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
You know you are. Everyone has one thing that makes them a BIG nerd. What's your secret? What makes you a nerd?
Me first? Okay. Fine. I've brought it. I'll throw it out there. I'm not scared. I'll tell you. I'm not even a little embarrassed. Really.
Are you sure you won't go first?
I love to knit. Am I any good? No. But someday I will be. I feel like my grandmother when I do it, but there's just no denying it. I really love to knit. It relaxes me and I love seeing something being created with my own two hands. So far I've only finished scarves, but hey! I've got tons of other patterns as soon as I'm
not such a big chicken a more experienced knitter. I learned over New Year's 2005 and I was hooked. Oh and speaking of hooked? I can crochet too. I've never actually finished anything but I know the basics.
Now your turn. I know you're a nerd, but why?
So much for NaBloPoMo! I spent all day yesterday fretting about a post and managed to fall asleep at 7:00. Soundly asleep. 7:00.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
My washer is fixed! I had a local place order the right part - the one Sears didn't bring - last Friday. It arrived today. Sarge fixed it in five minutes. Catching up on the laundry may take years.
Now my car is broken. Specifically, the spedometer. Shit.
Monday, November 5, 2007
And I know you want to know...
Did the Maytag repairman piss me off again today?
Why, yes! Yes he did! Despite my telling them exactly the part I needed for my particular model number of washer, he showed up without it. Shit. Do they not know how damn much laundry's downstairs?
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Today was completely lacking in blog material. Because I teach Sunday School (shut UP Ian!), I had to go and opted to stay for church. I
bribed convinced my children to behave so they could have Burger King for lunch because they are just such good boys and then we all came home and had a lovely nap.
I'm sorry. I know this is boring but my washer is still broken and the thought of that growing mountain of laundry downstairs just makes me tired.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
The Khan: "Here Mama" (presents half a snack sized Butterfinger)
Mama: "Where's the other half of it?"
The Khan: "Uhm... Papa eat it."
What a rip-off....
Friday, November 2, 2007
The family and I just finished a couple rounds of this game and it is an absolute blast!
Buzz! The Mega Quiz hits on another of my true talents. I'll bet you had no idea that I am a gold mine of useless knowledge, but it is true. And this game, with it's cool five button controller featuring a Big RED Buzzer on the top and four color coded answer keys really gets me going. It feels like you're on a real game show. It appears it may be possible to use the Eye Toy with this game and put your own face in, but I just got the game today so I've really no idea. You didn't know I was a video game nerd did you? Well, I'm not, but there are games I really like
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and oldskool Legend of Zelda because they're so cool - like me!
It's a four player game with a USB hookup so you don't need a multi-tap. It is expandable to 8 players making the party possibilities endless. Imagine me beating my children AND my husband at this game!
The game is not complicated to learn. The rules of each phase are clearly explained and you can skip them if you don't need to hear them.
The categories are varied and interesting: Science, Sports, Entertainment, Music, etc. and a great Geography category that shows you where the country your question will be about is located. I love the hidden map lesson included here.
It appeals to a wide audience. The players tonight ranged from 9 to 43 and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.
The price! For a new-release game with the controllers, this bundle comes to market at $39.99 at your local TrUs. A bargain!
The biggest complaint I have is the music. The music categories ask you questions about songs that you can't decipher because they are muzak versions. They're hard to figure out most of the time and that's frustrating. It would enhance the game greatly if they'd gotten permission to use the real songs. Yes, I would pay more for the game if it had this feature. (Oh if only Sony's product development team read my blog!)
It would be nice to be able to undo errors before submitting your answers when you're asked to rank things. But I can understand why that's not allowed.
All in all... Buzz the Mega Quiz! Is a fun way for the family to spend an hour after dinner and before bed on these cold midwest autumn nights. I give it 4.5 of 5 Stars. I am really loving how PlayStation is making a run at Nintendo Wii's interactive aspects with games like Dance Dance Revolution, the guitar hero series and Eye Toy. Eye Toy, may I say, ROCKS as much as this game in so many ways. Maybe I'll review that later.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Remember those commercials when you were a kid? The poor Maytag repairman was so lonely because the appliances worked so well he was never needed? I am pretty sure those days are long gone. We bought a brand new washer and dryer in June. In July, the dryer required service to replace a bad control panel. Now my washer is broken. Maytag pisses me off. Here's why:
I am an extremely unhappy customer. I took delivery of a brand new front loading washer and dryer approximately June 15. Within 45 days, I had to have the dryer repaired due to a control panel issue. Now I have a broken door latch and who knows what else wrong with my washer. The model number of the washer is MFW9600SQI and the serial is CSU1807531. Again, the door latch is broken and there is water in the washer. This should not be. I bought Maytag because my grandmother had a Maytag washer with no problem for many years and mine dont even last a year without a service call. It is totally unacceptable. Not only will I never buy a Maytag again, rest assured that I am the kind of customer that will spread the word about this experience. My next pair will be LG.
Thank you for visiting the Maytag website. We appreciate hearing from you.
Thank you for taking the time to write in reference to the concern you expressed regarding your Maytag dryer. (psst! It's a washer!)We regret that you are not totally satisfied with your appliance.
Although our appliances are manufactured under strict quality guidelines, occasionally an appliance will not operate as expected, failures can occur, or components may cosmetically deteriorate. We cannot explain what factors may have contributed to the premature malfunctioning or to the deterioration of the parts in your unit.
We have documented your comments, and we apologize for any inconvenience this concern has caused you. Your file is stored in our computer system and available for review.
Please do not hesitate to contact Maytag after a service diagnosis and before a repair is completed. It may be helpful for the Maytag service technician to contact us so that we may insure that all that can be done to remedy your service concerns is being done.
Thank you for allowing us to assist you today.
You are a valued customer and we apologize for any inconvenience this concern may have caused.
We invite you to contact Maytag again either by calling (800) 688-9900 between 8:00am to 8:00pm EST weekdays or by emailing whenever the need arises. When calling please press the available option or stay on the line to reach a representative.
Maytag Customer Loyalty Team
Maytag Customer eXperience Center
So what you're saying, then, is that, while it is unfortunate that I've had a horrible experience with my washer and dryer, you're not really going to do anything about it? Why not expedite my service call? Get a tech here who has the parts and knows how to fix my appliance either today or tomorrow so that I don't miss the opportunity to do laundry for my family of six this weekend. Because what is likely to happen otherwise is that the tech will come between 8 and 5 on Monday when no one can be here, not have any parts, not fix the washer and it will be another week before the situation is resolved.
I'd suggest contacting the guy in New Lisbon that fixed the dryer for us. He was pretty good and works on a schedule that accomodates customer needs. But get my washer fixed by tomorrow PLEASE! Ten days of laundry for six people isn't pretty.
Thank you for visiting the Maytag website. We appreciate hearing from you.
Local service companies are independent business concerns neither owned nor franchised by Maytag. We cannot set their days or hours of operation. We can not compel them re arrange their service schedule and we can not compel them to bring particular parts to your home. To be sure that they would have the parts to repair your appliance they would have to carry every part on the parts list for that model number. We are sure that you can see how this would not be possible. If the unit is in warranty we can assist in getting the parts as soon as is possible. If we order the parts for you we can have them to you in three business days. Please call while the service technician is in the home on the day of service so that we can verify parts needed with him.
We hope that this information is helpful.
Thank you for allowing us to assist you today.
You are a valued customer and we apologize for any inconvenience this concern may have caused.
We invite you to contact Maytag again either by calling (800) 688-9900 between 8:00am to 8:00pm EST weekdays or by emailing whenever the need arises. When calling please press the available option or stay on the line to reach a representative.
Maytag Customer Loyalty Team
Maytag Customer eXperience Center
You could, however, pick up a phone and call them directly to try and expedite my service. If they already know that the little black latch is broken when they come then one could assume they'd show up with the right parts saving an extra trip. You really have no interest in providing true customer service.
Your message is clear and cements my opinion that I will avoid purchasing Maytag in the future. I doubt that the Maytag repairman is lonely since when I call the 800 number both washer recall and a dishwasher recall are included in the menu. Keep up that commitment to quality.
Yes, kids... I'm caving to the peer pressure and participating in National Blog Post Month. I'm not sure what I'll write about but I guess I'll write every day. For those of you who have blogs - grab a badge at NaBloPoMo and get to work!