Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mom's taxi is up and running...

but I am taking a breather at the moment. Brie needed a ride to bowling, Rei needed a ride to confirmation, and both will need picking up soon. Kimmie needs a ride to the book store for a book for school, and I am not sure when we will get to that, and Cliff elected to go join Rei at the church for frisbee and pizza, so he and Kimmie are cutting me a break on driving for a bit by bringing Rei home afterwards.

For all that Eric had Monday and Tuesday off, we have had NO time to ourselves at all these last few days. I'm not sure exactly where the hours have gone, but we have had no "us" time and I miss it, as does he. Cliff and Brie are again loudly on the outs and life has been uncomfortable. It's getting tiresome, and we are concerned for both of them because neither is behaving like a responsible young adult. It's actually quite sad. Patrick too is pushing boundaries on being responsible as well (going off after school with friends and not coming home until after 10:30 pm with NO phone call as to his whereabouts or who he is with...). His wings were clipped last night and he was not a happy camper after school today when he had to come directly home. The frustrating part there is all we are asking for is to know where he is and what his plans are! I have repeatedly told him I am not so worried about granting permissions as I am just being kept in the loop so I know what we are doing for dinner, for other activities, and that he is safe! It's being courteous! Aurora had a band concert last night, Eric had school yesterday and bowling last night... It just feels like we are running around a maze and not finding any breathing space together!

Now we have major activities going on this weekend. Cliff, Rei and Kimmie are flying up to Minneapolis on Friday evening to pick up Liisa's Kia, which Cliff is buying. They will stay there Saturday, and drive back Sunday morning early (Cliff has to work Sunday night). Cliff wanted Rei to go with him as he knows his way around the twin cities, as well as the route back to IL from MN. He will be the "official navigator". I'm still not completely sure how Kimmie ended up going too, but it sounds like Cliff invited her to go, provided her Dad would pay her way, which he was willing to do. They will hang out at Liisa's on Saturday, then drive back early Sunday morning. Patrick has Prom on Saturday night, and will wear Eric's nice (new) black suit rather than renting a tux. He is going stag with some other friends, but we'll need to chauffer him back and forth. I am not sure what Aurora or Brianne have planned for the weekend, but it's gonna (hopefully) be quiet around here! I can't wait!

I am getting one phone call after another so I guess I will write more tomorrow!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The weekend is over and we survived it!

I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, because it has been a full weekend, with lots going on. Yesterday I got up at 7 am to shower and get ready for the day, was picked up at 7:45 by some friends of ours, and was dropped off at the service station, where I sat on their "park bench" outside their front door, drank my coffee, read my book, and knitted for 2 hours straight! I had called them Friday as I got off of work to check on the status of the van's repairs and was told it was about 60% done, and to check back around 4ish to see where they were at. At 4:30 I was told they were approximately 90% done, but that it wouldn't be done before they closed (at 6 pm) and they could promise me "before noon" on Saturday. I told them I couldn't wait until noon as I had to be to work at 10:30, so they said they would do their best... Eric worked all Friday overnight, and then had class on Saturday morning, hence my needing a ride to the shop, and my "camping out" on their doorstep... They brought it out to me just before 10, and it ran perfectly! I was so thrilled! Even better, the "damage" wasn't as bad as we were originally told for the estimate, and with the military discount, was acceptable (with much deep breathing, lol). They had to replace the intake gasket, which was leaking coolant onto the plugs and wires, causing them to arc and misfire; I was significantly low on coolant, and the job was a 6-6.5 hour job just for labor. As Eric said though, there was no way we could have bought a reliable beater at that price, with a guarentee that it would not need something else as soon as we turned our back.

I left the repair shop and headed to work, arriving just at 10:30, after stopping to get gas. I needed to change into my work clothes, and put on makeup, which worked out fine for me, as my demo didn't start until 11 am, and they already had the tables all set up--outside the front door! I punched in about 10:40, and worked out of doors, in the hot sun and wind, for 4.5 solid hours! I got cooked! My arms are sunburnt right around my elbows (up to where my short sleeves ended) and the v-neck of my chest is also bright red. My nose also got quite red, and my freckles are "popping." I was responsible for demonstrating and supervising the kids as they made little "foamie"creations--a picture frame or little "S'more-men" figurines. The wind was NOT helpful at all--made the day more bearable, but blew the tiny pieces everywhere! I felt like I needed at least 3 hands to hold things down, while still trying to instruct the kids how to make them, and then we had issues with the glue we had not holding real well either... The frames were a hit, but the marshmellow dudes were another story. On top of all of that, we had Radio Disney there across from us on the front sidewalk, and they were really loud! They gave away some fun things, but didn't necessarily get the turnout that management was hoping for. Still, it seemed like the grand opening was a success--there were certainly lots of customers going in and out, and lots of bags as they left. I came home hot, tired, and sticky!

Saturday night Eric had to work again, and I had to run and get a few groceries--thank goodness we had the van back! We were totally out of milk, oj, and butter! I also got some beer (for the house, and as a thank you for our friends who took the time to drive me) and the fixings for making BLTs for dinner... Summertime food! The kids were in and out given the beautiful weather, and I personally tried to make it an early night.

Eric got home at 7 and went straight to bed, but again it was hot and sticky (despite my putting a fan on him and having the window open for the breeze--too soon in the season to run the central air). He was up at 10 am, and couldn't sleep. We ended up having a long discussion with Brie and Cliff about the vehicles and driving/gas/usage expectation, with mixed results. What they ended up hearing/understanding is that while the van is here to be driven now that it's fixed, it is NOT to be taken joy-riding, or for numerous non-essential trips. That means that runs to the mall etc. are fine, but not multiple runs back and forth, and it also means that if you use it, you replace the gas you use--whether it's a couple dollars or filling the tank. I am burnt out on filling the tank only to make one or two trips, then filling it again after they have been all over town and bringing it back to me on Empty. There was some arguements/defensiveness/blaming going on, and we worked hard to defuse it, but it was tense at a few points too. I put it down to people being upset, overtired, and stressed. It ended up peacefully and Eric napped/dozed a bit before heading to work tonight. In the meantime, I made a wonderful Sunday dinner of Roast Chicken, potato salad, and fresh fruit... Eric ate here before leaving and took left overs with him for later too.

Tonight I have spent finishing up knitting on my spring sweater. All the pieces are done, but I need to figure out what I am going to block them on (it's lace) before I can sew it together and knit on the button and neck bands... I found a pattern online for making a good sized blocking board, and that may be my best option, as anything premade is either too small or too expensive. I need to think on this a bit more before I jump in. Regardless, I cannot finish the sweater til I block it.

I also talked to MN tonight at length: my Mom, my daughter, and my son. I am so proud of Liisa and Tony both, and the adults they have become! Liisa is loving her AGM position, and stayed on tonight to help her housekeeping staff finish stripping down and cleaning rooms after a big weekend at the hotel. She said her staff were surprised she was jumping right in with them and working along side them, but she has learned that the best way to lead is by example. Tony too had a weekend of demonstrating his leadership skills. He is now active Reserve (Army), as he got "recalled" to duty, and he had a drill weekend this weekend. He was tapped by his Sargent to teach a class that he was only given 24 hours to prepare for, and he did it with flying colors; he was also asked to go over/teach some other things as well, and he shared his knowledge and experiences with the reservists who were there. He was told by his Sargent that he should hold to the high standards that he learned as active duty Army, and that he could be an example/role model to the reservists and help bring up the standards there to what he is used to. I was so proud! As much as he has struggled with authority over the years, Tony like the discipline and regimentation of the military and he carries himself with such pride when in uniform. I may be a sap, but it makes me so proud of him and what he stands for! When I look at the adults Liisa and Tony have become it reaffirms for me that I did the best job I could in raising them, and that the things that I value and tried to instill in them have taken root. It gives me hope that Rei will turn out well too, and that I can hopefully have a positive influence on the other kids too as they grow and mature.

Eric is on the phone, and I just realized it's later than I thought. Guess it's time to get ready for bed and chat with my sweetie.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finally, some pictures!

Finally, some pictures! I had Aurora take some pictures for me of my container gardens (heehee) so that you could see my "green thumb" in action. The first round pot is full of pansies in all colors. I love how cheerful they are. Eric laughed at me because I guess I planted them in a container that was used at one point to hold the garden hose. I "repurposed" it--thought it would be fun, and I was right! The second picture is of my pot of double impatiens, which I really liked--they looked like little roses! I used one of my old pots from MN to house them, and they sit next to the front door. The pansies are next to the tree, mid-yard.

Then there is my created hanging basket, on a shepherd's hook, next to the "porch" and the swing, right in front of the house. These are mini pansies and violas, along with ivy (for the "drape" appeal). Last is my big pot of gerbera daisies. I love how big and colorful they are, and I inserted vinca too, again for the drape effect. Next to it is the lovely forsythia from my father-in-law, which flowered a brilliant yellow (my favorite!) and now is starting to bud out in leaves. The big pot is between the garage and "porch area" where it gets good sun.

These are pictures of my "advent calendar" project, by Chatelaine designs. Martina, the designer, published one part of the design, mystery style, for 24 days over December 2008. I started it shortly after she began putting the patterns out, but got way behind with other things going on, so I am working diligently to complete it before I start another, more spring/summer type of project. This is my "portable project" meaning it travels better than the two big ones I have on stitching frames. The last motifs, for the open area, are a Santa Claus putting decorations on a Christmas tree, and the ornaments are lovely swarovski crystals, which I have already purchased (I love the bead shop near where Brianne works, and they also carry nice yarns and knitting supplies). I just wish that I had used a different fabric for it, as the white snow falling and sparkling thread gets lost in the white background... That makes me a bit sad.
Work today was crazy busy with it being the Grand Opening, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that my van is done in time for me to go to work tomorrow. It was almost done tonight, but not totally. I am going to call some friends of ours for a ride to the bowling alley and have them drop me at the auto shop, and then they will run the kids home too. I guess the worst that can happen is I go in late, but I truly want to be on time and make a good impression. This is important to me as I will be demonstrating products, not at the cutting table. Eric actually slept a good part of today, for which I am thankful. He has class in the morning, then will come home for a few hour's sleep before going back to work. I am so glad to see this week coming to an end. He has his short week next week, so hopefully it will be a time for him to catch up on things he needs to get done for him!
The weather is gorgeous today, 85, and will remain so most of the weekend, albeit with a slight chance of rain. Then come monday the rains are back for most of the week. Naturally! I have windows open everywhere, and I am loving it! I am looking forward to a quiet night tonight, with stitching and tv watching: Ghost Whisperer, Numbers, and Flashpoint--all new episodes of each! Time to start dinner so I can watch tv!
(So frustrated with this blog right now--it won't format my paragraphs for me! I make them correctly, but upon hitting post, they all run together and even ignore indentation!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So many options!

I have spent a couple of hours this morning looking at quilt patterns I own. I have some quilts in the back of my head that I would like to get going on, as well as finish up on a few things I have in process already. Working in a fabric store has stirred all kinds of creative juices in me and I would give anything to have a functional sewing room up and ready to use! It's a step by step process though and is going to take time, no matter how we look at it, to get things organized and user friendly. In the meantime, though, it's nice to dream. I would like to make a quilt for my niece for her graduation from high school next year; I have the perfect pattern for it, a nice blend of fussy cutting/piecing, applique, and practicality. But I would need fabrics for it, especially for the background pieces. I also looked at the pattern I bought a year ago in MN and the fabrics I started collecting on the quilt shop hop... (which is again coming up in MN the first weekend in May--the first one I will miss completely since their inception!). I still love the pattern and I love the fabrics I have picked for it--it's just that they are more muted than I remembered, and while wonderful, need some "zing" to them. They are also going to need to be prewashed and ironed as some of them make me think they'll bleed. Wouldn't want to go through all the work of sewing something together and have the colors run the first time I wash it or something gets spilled on it!

I'd also like to make a quilt for Jesse and Liisa's wedding. I have a bit over a year to get it made, as they are looking at August 2010 for the wedding (and Jocelyn's graduation is next June, also 2010... Man that would mean I really need to get cracking on making quilts!), but at this moment I have no idea of what pattern I would use. I will be honest here (and have already been so with my husband) that I am really bummed we are not going to make a trip to Paducah this year. I had really been excited to know that we are so close to the National Quilt show, but it starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday, and Eric is working each of those nights (he took on Thursday night as an overtime shift). Our plan (during the dreaming stage) had been to drive down tonight--three hours away, spend the night, spend the day wandering the exhibit and merchant hall tomorrow, and drive back home late evening. It's not possible to do this year though. We don't feel comfortable leaving our pseudoadults in charge of the younger kids overnight, we don't feel comfortable leaving the younger kids in charge of themselves, and, there isn't a spare vehicle capable of making the round trip so that I could go on my own (not that I want to go alone anyway. I did in MN for our annual quilt show and convention, but then I also was a member of the guild and knew people there). I spoke to a number of customers at the store who were making the trip though and they were all so excited to be going. On the plus side though, at least I am working myself on Friday, and by choice on Saturday, so that will take some of the sting away--and perhaps I may even browse some of the quilting fabrics as I put things away from the cutting table...

Eric is talking about taking a term off from school again for the summer. I have mixed feelings about it, which I have shared with him. On the one hand, it would be lovely to have all his time off be his/ours, so that we can focus on projects here at home and doing things with the kids, but on the other, the money he gets from the GI Bill is very helpful right now, and the faster he gets done and graduated, the faster it'll be he can be considered for other (more challenging/better paying) jobs he'd like to do. I have left the decision up to him, as I recognize his heart really isn't in school at the moment, and as he has said (and I know from personal experience, both with my undergrad degree and my grad school classes) it is really hard being a dedicated student, working full time, and being a parent too. It has it's rewards, but is very challenging. And if your heart isn't in it, that makes it all the harder. He is at the midpoint for the term, so things *may* get more difficult before they get easier. I will support him however I can, but ultimately, it's his decision.

I have promised the kids we will get a season pass to Mascoutah's pool, and I plan to use it faithfully too. I think the pool was one of the factors in the plus column for moving down here, and I really like it alot! Unfortunately I am not as "bathing suit" ready as I had hoped to be by now, but meh, I have a man who loves me and that's what matters most. It's not a beauty pagent after all... Besides, grandma's are supposed to be soft and cuddly! Right???? The kids are already planning that that will be a nice treat after they get done with summer school classes, and I figure it will also be a way to get them out of Eric's hair so he can sleep during his two months of mids late summer (hopefully June and July will be primarily day shifts!)

I think I will grab my Baltimore Album Quilt border, and my cross stitching, and head out on the swing for awhile. Cliff is sleeping on the couch in the living room and it is dim like a cave down there; and I am tired of being in my bedroom despite how bright and welcoming it is up here! I need a change of scenery! Oh--I got a bell shaped seed ball and put it on the tree out front--the birds have found it and are devouring it! Makes me very happy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I am tired tonight.

I worked today from 10 - 2 and it was a busy day. We have our grand opening this weekend, starting Thursday, and I will be working again on Friday. Then, today I was asked if I could come in for 4 hours on Saturday to do something really fun: I will be demonstrating a craft we sell, probably outside on the sidewalk, to encourage people to come in, and to share fun things that one can do with kids. I am excited to do this! Seems like something that will be fun to do! I will need to make arrangements for the kids to get a ride home from the bowling alley as I have to be there by 10:30, and the kids need to be at the bowling alley at 9. Speaking of bowling, Aurora and Reimond both bowled in a tournament on Sunday afternoon, round 3 for a scholarship tournament, and Rei did really well. Aurora didn't do badly, per se, but bowled two games way below her average (and she didn't want to talk about them). We will find out hopefully on Saturday if one or both of them move on to the next level. Eric has school after work on Saturday, then needs to sleep, so I hope the kids cooperate with him and stay quiet.

We haven't heard (to my knowledge, anyway) from the repair shop about the van as yet. I am operating under the principle of "no news is good news"... Eric skipped class this morning (shhhhhh) because we only have the one running vehicle and I had to get to work this morning. I feel it was for the best though, because he didn't get much for a nap yesterday before he went to work, and this is his "hell week." I was glad he got some sleep today. I am going to call them tomorrow to see where we are at in the repairs, and I have my fingers crossed. Our plan is to fix the CRX next if the van isn't too expensive.

We found out this weekend that Brianne's departure for AIT has been postponed until July 29th. We haven't heard why it's later than we had first been told, but she will be gone through October; at least that's our understanding at this point. She's ok with it other than the fact that it'll delay her college attendance yet one more semester. Things between her and Cliff have resumed being at a low simmer, probably because they are taking turns not being home much. I have faith that things will eventually settle down, but I know it's going to take time. I just wish they could see that and act accordingly. The impatience of youth and needing things to be done and settled yesterday...

The rest of the kids are doing ok. Aurora is enjoying running track, and her times are improving. She came in sixth at her meet on Monday, and might have done a bit better had she not had hip pain. She is talking to the trainer about it as it is achey, but she's holding her own. Patrick is holding to his contract with Eric over his homework and grades, although he wasn't happy when the consequences were enforced this week. Kimmie remains with us for the nonce, and she seems content. Luckily for us, she isn't much work. Sometimes it's nice to have all the kids around, whereas other times I miss the quiet of the days when it was just Rei and I. I actually stayed home totally alone on Sunday afternoon when Eric took the kids to the bowling tournament, just because I needed the silence!

Smells like dinner is done, so I guess I will go eat... Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Text messages...

Around here texting is a way of life--the kids communicate in small notes sent electronically back and forth, with varying results, dependent on who the recipient is. Eric and I shake our heads, shrug, and even wonder if it would be best if we turned it off. When texting it is so hard to gauge what the true messages are sometimes, because the nonverbals are missing, the emotions are masked, and the contexts are absent. It's a convenient way for the kids to shoot notes to each other, but in some cases these messages are not helpful or necessary. We have watched arguements be propogated by text that are totally unnecessary, and we have cringed at some of the things that get sent back and forth. But texting can be wonderful too. Picture messages keep me connected to my older kid's lives, and what is important to them. I see the babies with ice cream all over their faces, or the puppies as they romp. I see my roses in bloom, or new purchases as they occur. And like tonight, there are the messages that make your heart feel good and bring a tear to your eye.

Tonight I got two messages from one of my "orphans", telling me what a wonderful mother and example I have been to him after the month that he has had, working full time and raising two small girls. It came out of the blue, and I have no idea what the circumstances have been of his life over the past month. But the message left me with tears in my eyes and a humble, grateful heart, that I was there when he needed me growing up, and that some of what I represented for him has given him strength to do what he has to do now. It was a wonderful surprise and I am so very touched by it. I wish that was how everyone used text messages--to provide information, to share glad tidings, to say thanks, and to say "I love you." Sometimes we get so busy with our lives we forget to do that, and I am so honored to be the recipient of such a message tonight.

On a totally seperate subject, we took the van in to be looked over today. Tony said I don't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, so it can't be a CV axle. He suggested bearings or the transmission, neither of which brought any comfort to us. Jesse also thought perhaps it was the transmission, but as all have said, it's hard to diagnose long distance... The owner of the service station drove it for us and he felt that it was not the transmission, or the bearings. and he felt a good tune-up and tweaking the ignition system may fix all of it. We left it in his care, and he said he would get it looked at either today or monday and he'd let us know what is up. Big sigh of relief! Then we headed to the grocery store and bought a ton of groceries as we were getting down to the dregs in the cupboards... Despite the rain today, we grilled between the showers, and it was so nice to have steak off the grill for dinner. Eric is a wonderful cook!

The kids serve tomorrow at church, so I hope everyone makes it a fairly early night. Brie is at drill for the weekend, and we will have to pick her up after the kids get done with their bowling tournament in the mid-to-late afternoon. She is training an hour and a half away. Cliff is working til close tonight, and Kimmie is spending the night at a friend's house. It's been kinda nice to have a quieter house tonight! When we got home from the grocery store we cracked the whip on the kids and had everyone pitch in to clean up the main floor. It is so nice to have things tidy again.

That's all I had on my mind tonight. Time to settle in with my book for a little bit, and then go to sleep. Eric is raiding on EQ tonight at the computer, and I am enjoying a Victorian murder mystery (Anne Perry is the author, Monk and his wife Hester are the main characters). A new week begins tomorrow, and it is gonna be a busy one!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The sun before the storms...

We are blessed today with 70+ degree weather and sunshine, and I have spring fever something fierce! I would love to get in the car and drive to a nursery and garden center and start plannning out and pricing my garden. I really NEED some bird feeders and a bird bath, and I would like some flowering "somethings" in the yard! I have seen my first real bluebirds over the past couple of weeks--not blue jays, but actual bluebirds, with orangish/goldish breasts, and I want to support their coming into the yard with birdfeeders and a bath. I love watching birds and I would like things to be inviting for them! I had three feeders in Minneapolis that I kept on my 100 year old lilac bush, and I had one in the front garden by the porch; I would sit in the yard and enjoy their songs and company as I read, studied, and stitched. Unfortunately, the weather is gonna bog down for the weekend (of course, because Eric is off!) so even if we got things today it wouldn't be feasible to have it all done before the cool and rain comes... But I would love to browse there and see what is available for this region.

I have been stitching steadily on my "Advent Calendar Project" and am so pleased with it's progress. I also need to knit one sleeve on a sweater for me, then I will have to block it out, sew the pieces together and knit the neck and button bands on it. Not working has led to some productive rewards. I did check on my schedule for next week and will work Tuesday and Friday. That is encouraging to me. I have also been checking the job postings, but there is very little in my skill range out there at the moment.

I am not completely over my homesickness for MN, but it is easing some, and I am taking it day by day. There is much to be thankful for down here too... I just wish I could bundle all I miss and have it surrounding me some days!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back to reality!

First, let me apologize for how blue and negative I have been sounding of late. Things are NOT terrible; I just get into funks now and again, and for whatever reason, Easter was harder for me this year than some of the other holidays have been since my move south. I did make an Easter dinner for the family, which everyone who was here partook (is that a real word?) of, then Reimond went and rented the movie "Bolt" for me to see. We sat on my bed and watched it together after Eric left for work and I laughed myself silly watching it. (This is the movie I sent to Justin and Alexis for Easter but hadn't seen it myself). I talked to the family as they were gathered at my mom's, and Justin told me how much he loved his new dog movie, and Alexis tried to get me to "come out of the phone!". My mom commented that Alexis recognized me in various pictures she has of me around the house, and that made me very happy. Liisa also posted pictures of the little kids on her facebook page, and that too made me happy to see everyone in their Easter finery. It was bittersweet to hear that Liisa tried on my mom's wedding dress, with all the women (and girls) of the family in attendance (and I wasn't there to be a part of it), but I was thrilled to hear how much fun they had doing it, and I love the idea of Liisa wearing Grandma's dress (which will be 49 years old when Liisa gets married next summer).

Eric got home just before 3 am yesterday morning and we had an "eventful" round trip drive to IN and back. We had drenching rains both ways that added some excitement to the drive, although we were safe and got home in one piece. The kids were glad to see us and come home, and Rei was happy to be on a road trip, short though it was. We were tired out--neither Eric nor I got much rest on the road, but we were together and that is what counts the most. Maybe we can plan things better for the next drive, on Memorial Day, so that we don't have to rush quite so much for that one.

Eric just got home from school, so I think I will end here; maybe I will write more later on!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday before Easter, 2009

This Easter weekend has gone nothing like I had planned for. It feels all topsy-turvey and confused. We have two kids gone, but continue to have a house full of kids; things are picked up, but they are not (I know that doesn't make a lot of sense; what I mean is I have picked stuff up, only to find it back where I had removed it from because of the extra people around. Nothing stays put!). Eric and I were talking yesterday about what we would do for Easter dinner, and if it was even worth trying to put one together, given he is working all weekend, and we need to leave at 3 am Monday to go to IN and get the kids... We are planning to go to the 8 am service at church on Sunday because I feel like I really need to go to church, and I would like us to go together, regardless of whether the kid go with or not... I adore Palm Sunday but didn't make it to service because the house was in such chaos! The confusion in some regards has been a blessing for Reimond. He has had friends around to help him not be so disappointed about MN. But there is an edge to it that I am not liking, a frenetic quality that smacks of avoidence.

Cliff and Brie have been fighting again. Brie has been doing her damnedest to stay away from home. Part of it has been thoughtful, in that she has arranged for alternate transportation to and from work, but that has entailed staying at a friend's house. Last night though, she invited a guest over for the evening, then took off on Rei's rip stik, and didn't come home late in the afternoon. 8 pm and we still hadn't heard from her. Eric finally called her (from work) and was told she was "at a friend's". She called me about 11:10 last night to say she was staying there overnight. In the meantime, her invited guest was here waiting for her, and hung out with the kids--Reimond, Kimmie, a friend of Kimmie's (who had been invited to spend the night), and a friend of Cliff's, who was hanging with the kids while Cliff was at work, and evenutally, Cliff. When I just went downstairs to make coffee everyone was still here, sleeping either in the loft (the girls), on the couch, or in the den with Cliff. Honestly, I don't mind the kids crashing here--in Minneapolis there were times I was never sure who would be on the couch/floor when I woke up--but I do get tired sometimes of the messes that don't get picked up later on. Stuff left for the dogs to lay on and get muddy or hairy, stuff strewn around from folks lounging/snacking etc. And I will be honest, money is tight right now so we don't necessarily have food around for random snacking etc. What we have we share, but when it's gone, it's gone.

And there is still the vehicles issue. There is no extra money to fix the CRX right now, so we need to share the van and use it only for necessary trips, not staying out all night with it, or joy-riding. The other night Cliff had it and said he would be going to a friend's after work. I told him I'd need it home in the morning as Eric had school and I wouldn't have a vehicle. He showed up at noon, after telling me he'd be home by 7. Fortunately for me Eric decided to skip class because he was so tired he knew he needed to get home and to bed, so I had a car for the necessary running. But I was mad! It's my car, I had made my wished clearly known, and I was blown off. We have put it out there that if the kids want to have the CRX fixed they need to put money towards it to help (after all, they drive it), but so far, nada.

It doesn't help that I am getting no hours at work. I work 4 hours this evening, and that's it. That's all I have worked this week. And I am not on the schedule at all next week. While that makes it a bit easier as far as juggling vehicles goes, it sure doesn't help the finances at all (which is why I got the job in the first place), nor does it do it's secondary benefit of getting me out of the house and giving me some structure to my day. When we stopped by there yesterday I checked the schedule and saw I was not even listed on it. I stopped by the office and asked if I had been fired and not told because I didn't see my name even listed; I was told I would have been called had I been fired, but that there were no hours available for me. I was sad, and Eric was vocally mad. I did look online at job postings again last night and I applied for one I think I would be good at (and fully qualified for, at the Children's hospital in St Louis). Perhaps that will come through for me. I am actually overqualified for it--says I need a high school diploma and psych testing experience... I have far more than that... We'll see. We did get the tax refund from the state of MN already in the checking account, so that is a blessing. We just need to figure out what we will need to pay in to IL for taxes, since neither of us had an income from IL in 2008. That is gonna be a challenge. We have the federal taxes done, and MO and MN.

The household just feels so tense these days. Leading up to the weekend there was tension in Aurora and Patrick about going to their mom's, and tension in Eric over making all the travel arrangements. The tension is still there because we still need to pick them up, and although permission has been given for us to grab them early (so that Aurora can run in her meet on Monday), it could still be revoked "because". There is tension over the visitation issues, and the kids' schedules. There is tension over vehicles, and money. There is tension between Cliff and Brie that is spilling over onto the rest of us. God love 'em both, but it would be so nice if they could just be civil to each other. The sniping and the pettiness, and the justifying is gettin old! For young adults they are acting like elementary schoolers! Neither seems able to let the other just be. Kimmie staying here right now is also a stressor. She is no work at all, and she actually pitches in to help at times (along with being a positive influence on Reimond at times), but she is one more person here who has her own things going on in her life (and hence her need to stay here). We are glad to help, and she is a complete sweetheart, but still. It adds to the emotional stew that is simmering. I wish I could wave a magic wand over everyone and just chill everyone out for a week or two!

For me it has translated into there being no place for ME to just be. When Eric is sleeping by day I try to stay out of the bedroom so he has peace and quiet. But there have been friends of Cliff's (or Cliff) crashed in the living room when I go downstairs, or the living room has been taken over by video systems and kids playing (loud) games and taking over all available seating; I have at times sat in the loft on the futon there just to be out of the way, but when that is someone's bed, I don't like intruding there either... We need to figure things out. What we (Eric and I) keep telling ourselves is that this is all temporary and will pass, and it will, but for the moment, it is stressful.

So today, the Saturday before Easter, I am going to finish doing some chores here in the house, I am going to get myself ready for work (shower, etc.), I am going to go shopping for the fixings for Easter baskets and a meal or two (we can do a full grocery shopping trip on Monday), and then go to work. Tomorrow morning we will go to church, then Eric will sleep, and I will occupy my time somehow productively, and then in the middle of the night we will leave for IN to get the kids. We should be back in town around 3ish on Monday afternoon, and Aurora's race is at 4. Then Tuesday is a return to school and normality, or what ever passes for normal these days...

Wish us luck! And Happy Easter to everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

It's Good Friday today, and it is a bleak and dreary day. The rain is falling, the skies are dark, and the temps are cool and clammy. Fortunately, today it isn't a reflection of my mood or spirits. I am feeling better, after a few days of feeling really crummy. I spend most of Wednesday sleeping off and on, (which was probably for the best, given I had a fever), and after a trip to walmart for Sudafed yesterday morning, kept myself mostly confined to quarters reading through my magazine stash that had been building up. Eric did an awesome job of keeping the fortress manned and making meals while I hid out, and it was so nice to just "be". I have gone through the better part of two boxes of tissues, quite a few bags of lemon tea, and half a bag of starburst jelly beans...

Aurora and Patrick are in IN, and while the house seems quieter without them, we have Kimmie and Jared here instead... Lost two, gained two... Brie has been working a lot, as has Cliff, so we continue to have comings and goings at all hours of the day and night. Eric had Wednesday and Thursday off, but returns to work tonight, and fortunately for us, only works until 2 am on Easter Sunday night/monday morning. When he gets home from work we will all pile into the car and head for IN to go get the kids. It still hasn't been decided whether or not we can get the kids first thing in the morning, but we will head there with that expectation, and play it by ear.

Eric just hit his next level on Everquest, something he has been working towards for awhile now (and has been focused on since about 6 o'clock this morning) so I am gonna try to get him off the game and take me out to breakfast; we need to plan out the next few days, and it would be nice to do that away from the "peanut gallery".

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy 99th Birthday Grandma Gladys!

Today Eric's maternal grandmother is 99 years old! She is still living fairly independently, is a lovely woman, and has her cognitive faculties all relatively intact. I met her last fall for the first time and I am so glad I did. She is a wonderful person and I wish her a fantastic "new year"!

I have a horrid cold. I am positive of it. I spent most of the night with body aches and coughing and my throat feels like it's lined with broken glass. My head aches, my sinuses are congested, and I have spend most of today in bed. Probably a good thing I am NOT driving to MN in a few hours. Instead though, I have to get up to run Rei to a dental appointment to get a cavity filled, and Eric will be here with the kids awaiting the arrival of their mother to take them to IN for the weekend. I think I have the better end of the deal, although they may still be here when we get back. I think I may stop at walmart or target and grab some nyquil as I didn't sleep much last night, and today my dozing has been restless with the coughing and needing to blow my nose. The joys of spring!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sunshine and better today, sorta...

I woke up this morning to blue skies and sunshine, even if it is a bit chilly still, and that truly lifted my spirits. I also woke up to a sore throat, sneezing, and a congested head, so that wasn't as fun... I made coffee and cream of wheat, and am trying to decide if it is better to take my allergy med (claritin) or a cold med to help open me up some... Could be allergies, could be a spring cold (I am about due--everyone else has had it except me). Oh well, I'll survive!

Today I have a few errands to run: Justin left some things here when they visited that I need to mail back, and I have a few birthday cards to send out, along with Easter (and one Passover) greetings. I need to run by the library, and I need to pick up some big envelopes to put our now completed tax stuff into. Eric is at school this morning, as are the kids, and Brie is at work, so it's just me and Cliff here at home. Dishes are staring me in the face and I need to get caught up on those, and the floor could use a good mopping now that it is starting to dry out some outside. I do love how green everything is starting to look, and I can't wait for spring to be here in earnest. Neighbors have tulips and daffodils sprouting that are such lovely spots of color. I have been walking some around the addition looking at how others have personalized their yards and homes. Sadly we have lots of homes for sale around us (Military with new orders primarily), but the turnover in this economy is sad.

I contacted the graduate school at St Louis University yesterday and requested info on their programs in marriage and family therapy. I'd like to see if some of my credits will transfer, and if so, what I would still need to do to complete that certificate program (and if it could help me to finish my MS degree). I am going to call Capella today too to talk to them about where I am status-wise and what they would recommend. I think it's time I got on the stick and got moving on this! I am even thinking about the PhD program, as that is something I have always wanted to do, and I am still "young" enough to be able to be a productive worker for many more years. I need to do something with my time. It is weighing so heavily on me these days, and I hate seeing Eric worry so about money. He jokingly said if I can be a clinical Psychologist I could work at the VA and make the big money so HE could sit on his ass and play EQ all day, heeheehee. I probably could play more EQ than I do, but other than that, chores, and handwork, my days are pretty dull until the kids get home.

Eric put in a call to his ex last night again, to arrange transportation issues for the kids for the weekend. She is expecting us to pick them up from her on Monday, so he was suggesting we get them early enough that Aurora can still run in her meet Monday afternoon. That didn't go over well, and she said she would "get back to him today" with her decision. The court order says she can have them until Monday afternoon, but that would make it too late for Aurora to run, even if we were there right at noon. It's a bit over a 6 hour drive. My kids/family in MN have taken it well that I cannot be there this weekend, but I am still sad. The tradeoff is that I will be able to ride up and back with Eric and help drive if need be.

Well, I have a phone call, so I guess I should sign off! Keep your fingers crossed for me I feel better!

Monday, April 6, 2009

I have the blahs today.

It's cold, grey, and gloomy outside and it's dark and depressing inside. No amount of lights turned on seem to diminish the gloom. I cannot seem to get it bright enoungh to suit me. It kinda fits my mood. Eric is working on finishing up our taxes for 2008 and I am sitting here for moral support. I am really feeling at loose ends today and am not sure what I need to do about it.

We didn't sleep well last night. We went to bed around 2 am because we were playing everquest and helping a guild mate to complete some trials towards his epic weapon battle; the cats were in hiding so I chose not to track them down and confine them to their lair. They started finding stuff to get into, and that kept me getting up and down trying to catch them to confine them. Then the door wouldn't stay latched and Pekeiko kept sneaking in to try to get to Rosie and Batman. Got her shut out. In the meantime, there was a full-sized personal tour bus parked across the street with it's diesel engine running all night right outside our bedroom window. That too interrupted sleep. And Brianne getting ready and leaving for work, the kids getting up and running in and out, Eric getting up with them, taking them to school (they missed the bus because of Rei not being ready), and then coming back to bed... I have a dull headache from to much interrupted sleep and not enough solid rest. Eric is planning to lay down again later this afternoon because he has to work tonight overnight, and I hope he gets some rest--at least I stayed in bed this morning,

I am still bummed about not going back to MN this week. I understand the reasons for it, and in my head I have come to terms with it, but my heart still is sore. I really need to see my family and I can't. Maybe I should have put in a formal request for the time off, but I didn't. I knew there was a risk I might end up on the schedule for it. But being so new, I was concerned that that might cause issues too. Eric is concerned because I am getting so few hours that it doesn't make it worth our while to have me driving the 35 miles round trip (gas etc. for so little pay). I see his point. I really enjoy being there when I am there, and I would like to work more. They just don't have the hours available right now, and I am near the bottom of the totem pole. I understand it, but don't necessarily like it. We really do need me to be working about 20 hours a week. This economy really stinks!

I am also bummed about the fact that I am not losing weight as I would like to. I have lost a total of 5 lbs since Feb. 1st, when I decided to really pay attention to things, including upping my activity levels. I keep see-sawing though with those 5 lbs. Gain 1 lose 2, lose 1 gain 2... I cannot seem to stay consistent, nor do I see steady progress. It's like my body is against me and is fighting me every step of the way. I have been trying so hard to stay positive, focus on taking baby steps, and just be patient, but I am discouraged. I had my hair and nails done on Thursday to try and feel better about myself, and it sorta worked, but in general I feel like I am not terribly successful on any front right now. Eric is being really supportive of me, and says I am fine as I am and that he loves me and thinks I am beautiful, but I don't feel beautiful right now. A big part of it is probably having too much time on my hands.

I really want to go to school. I want to finish my degree, and I want to be doing something in my field, something I know I am good at and that I know I am making a difference in. I want to feel productive, and valued, and valuable. I know what I do here at home is valued by Eric, and even by the kids to a certain degree. But I often feel taken for granted and that makes me sad. Some days I feel like I am talking to brick walls (referring to the kids and chores and helping with the pets). I miss my work and my old life sometimes. Going back to MN is helpful in that regard because it reminds me of how much things have changed and that I no longer have a place there. It makes me feel more centered here because it is a reality check for me.

Eric and I went out Saturday evening with some friends of ours, although I had to cut it short because of some "female" issues I was having. It was nice to be out with other grownups though in a social setting, and to just "be". I am grateful for those opportunities to have fun. I also really enjoyed having Tesa and Eric's mom here over the end of last week. It's so nice to have guests! I admit, I still have many moments where I just want to retreat to my bedroom and hide away up here, especially when the kids take over the main floor and loft. Even when they aren't home, I prefer to be in my bedroom for at least the morning because of how bright the sunshine generally is in here.

Wow, I am not the only one seeing things as feeling gloomy! Eric just turned on all the lighs in the bedroom, as well as totally opened the blinds to get as much "bright" in here as we can get. He is generally content to have it be dimmer than I am, so you know it's bad if he is lightening things up! I'm sorry for sounding like such a wet blanket today... Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Feeling really sad right now...

I went in to work yesterday and looked at my schedule for next week. I am off every single day of it except Saturday, April 11th. This means that I won't be able to go to MN for Easter weekend. Rei and I are both really disappointed because it has been almost 6 months since I was last "home" and I have been feeling really homesick. I knew going into it that there was a chance I might not be able to go--we are still having vehicle issues and don't have the third car running right now--but we had been talking about renting a car to make it happen, provided I didn't need to work. But I do. Who would want to trade a weekday shift of 4 hours for 4 evening hours on a Saturday of a holiday weekend? I don't know that many I work with would. It does mean that I can help drive when Eric needs to go to IN to pick up the younger two from their mom, but it won't be the same. My mom pointed out that I have seen both my older kids and the grandbabies recently so it isn't as though I haven't seen them, but I haven't seen my mom, or my sibs or my nieces and nephew since October. I miss them! From a financial status I know this is for the best, but it still hurts. I am very sad, and I know Rei is really disappointed too. I've seen Eric's mom more frequently than I have seen my own!

Eric's mom just left to go to St. Louis to see her mother. I so enjoy her visits! She is a lovely person, is easy to talk to, and we get along very well. She shares her opinions, of which she has many, but she and I tend to agree on most things, so it works out well! I really enjoy when we sit and stitch together, and we had a nice afternoon yesterday running around (she joined me on my trip to the clinic to get my med check done, then we went to Joann's to get a few things). Her and Eric's dad are both wonderful people and I really like them! As I told her this morning, I am as comfortable around her as I am my own mother, and that is saying a lot, because I adore my mom! It has been nice having her here for a few days.

We got the kids' report cards today, and they were as expected. The boys did not do as well as we had hoped, and I am saddened by that, but not terribly surprised. I was proud of Reimond as he called and shared his grades with his dad, along with taking ownership for not doing his best this last term. I have seen him buckle down the start of this one, so I hope it continues. Patrick didn't say much one way or the other. He just shrugged. I know their grades are not a reflection of us as parents, but sometimes it's hard not to take them personally when we spend so much time focusing on them. And as I have said before, the school system down here is a lot more rigid that Minneapolis was. That may be all to the good, but it is challenging too.

At bowling this morning Aurora had her highest score ever: a 258. She was very excited. I also paid the entry fee for the kids for their scholarship tournament on the 19th that Aurora and Rei have qualified for. There are only two more meetings for Saturday bowling, on the 25th, and on May 2nd. Then the youth season is done. This has been a fun experience for all of us, and I am so glad to see that Reimond enjoyed it.

Eric is on his way home, and is on the phone with me, so I will sign off for now! We have one more beautiful day, but starting tonight the temps are supposed to drop, it's supposed to start raining, and then maybe even snow on Monday. Blech!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tesa is on her way to TX...

and I hope the weather cooperates for her. She is a "little girl" relatively speaking, driving a great big (16') truck, all by herself down to Ft. Hood. The weather is forecasting rain between here and Oklahoma, but Northern TX looks ok; yesterday she had to deal with strong winds most of the way and it was scary for her. Still, she made decent time, and got here right around 8 p.m. Her mom, when we visited on the phone, thought it took Tesa about 10.5 hours to get here. I fed her dinner last night, and showed her the house, then we chatted a few hours and I sent her to bed (the kids had all crashed as well). She got up with us at 7 and Eric made omelettes for us (we wanted her to be well-fed before tackling the drive), and off she went, just after 9. I would have kept her longer if I could, but I knew it was a fleeting visit. Still, I was glad to have her here to see my new home.

I messed up yesterday: my mother in law is arriving today, which is fine--we are totally ready for guests and she is welcome anytime! I can't think of a more accommodating "guest" and I really enjoy her company! It's nice that Eric is on his short week too, so he will have some time to spend with her. He works tonight, and will need to sleep some in the morning, but then is off through the weekend, other than school Saturday morning. I love having company, and it is a wonderful "excuse" to crack the whip on the kids to be sure the house is up to company standards!

Aurora ran in a track meet on Tuesday late afternoon, and came in 3rd in the 2 mile. We are so proud of her! She is really progressing as a runner and is doing quite well. She is struggling right now with her being obligated to go to IN over Easter break next weekend because they have a scheduled practice for Friday and a meet on Monday that she really wants to attend. (When she agreed to go to IN she didn't have her running schedule and was unaware of the meet). She made a valient attempt to stay home, but this has been met with a stone wall, and we have one unhappy little girl at the moment. I really wish I knew more about IL law and what the children's rights are when it comes to mandatory visitation, because both she and Patrick are really struggling with being mandated to go out of town for most of their breaks from school. Eric tried his best to renegotiate terms last night on the telephone, and he too met with a brick wall. As a mother I do understand the need and desire to see and spend time with one's children. I don't begrudge that in the least. I just wish the kid's wishes would be taken into account and be respected. They are not elementary school ages any more, and we cannot force them to pack and get into the car... I really am not looking forward to next weekend on their behalf, although if my plans work out, Rei and I will be in MN with our extended family for a few days. (This too is up in the air as I have not seen my work schedule yet).

Liisa now has two new puppies! They are pure blood Redbone Coon Hounds, a boy and a girl, almost 8 weeks old. She named them "Sweet Tea" and "Popcorn" (as Rei said, what is up with her and pets named after food! LoL). She is now reading up on housebreaking and babies and training and such, and they are keeping her on her toes. Max, her white Lab, has a tumor on his pancreas, and given his advanced age, there isn't much they can do for him other than keep his life as normal and comfortable as they can. He started having "episodes" shortly after he had been bitten by that other dog, when he also had seizures. They recently determined these episodes are being caused by low glucose from the tumor (he gets disoriented, cannot stand, seems zombified, and sometimes loses bladder control). She was heartbroken he wouldn't survive her being in Myrtle Beach, but he did. He is pretty tolerant of the pups, but doesn't have anywhere near his old energy. Liisa and Jesse are just loving him up as much as they can and in the meantime, they have the little ones for comfort too.

Justin loves the puppies, especially Sweet Tea, and he called me crying after he left them that "My Sweet Tea puppy NEEDS come my house with ME Gram Rae! I make her a house and a bed and she needs come with me!", all punctuated with little sobs... He was told she needed to stay at Auntie Liisa's house because she would chew all the tires off of his trucks and make a big mess... He reluctantly accepted that explanation. I cannot wait to meet them in person, and Aurora says she wants one! I don't think we can handle the dogs we have though! Po is becoming quite the escape artist, and yesterday he ran all the way over to a really busy street, about a mile and a half one way, with Brie and Rei hot on his heels; he almost got hit by a couple of cars, and was finally cornered in the laundry room of an apartment (he ran into an open door). I don't know what we are gonna do with him--he is so naughty lately, and if he gets out when I am home alone, I cannot chase him--I am not fast enough!

Looking at the time, I think I can head out now--need to get my bangs trimmed and I may treat myself to a manicure and pedicure while Eric is sleeping. I also need to pick up some med refills and do a couple of other errands, so it will be quiet here for him to sleep.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day, 2009

Actually it doesn't seem so foolish down here, in lovely southwestern IL. We have blue skies, sunshine, and temps in the mid 60's. I just got home from work, opened up a few windows, and thought I would post a few thoughts, then get on with making the house company ready! Liisa's good friend Tesa is on her way here from MN with a truck, taking her and her husband's worldly possessions from there to their new duty station in TX. Then my wonderful Mother-in-Law is coming Friday to spend a day or two with us enroute to St Louis for her Mother's 99th birthday. So general tidying needs to get done, and the beds made. Nothing too onerous.

I am really enjoying working at Joann's. The store officially opened on Friday, and I have worked Sunday, Tuesday, and today, 4 hours each day. It took a little bit of refresher on using the scanner-ma-bobber thingy we use, and I still don't have it totally down, but overall I am enjoying the customers, liking the work involved, and spend most of my time at the cutting table. I haven't been on the cash register at all and I am sure that will be something I really need practice on. I have made a few small purchases, but so far have been fiscally responsible in not abusing my store discount or buying anything and everything that looks appealing.

The new term is in full swing for the kids, and hopefully will be productive for them. Rei continues to have issues with his science teacher and I will be sending an email to his S.E. liason for some support for him. It is getting frustrating because we should have a text book here at home for him and we don't, so it's hard to help him where he needs help. It's been an interesting experience learning to navigate the school system here, and while I still miss some things about the schools in Minneapolis, I do think the kids are getting a good education. That's what counts most I guess.

Eric is home from school, and we are gonna eat lunch, then he needs to nap before his work shift tonight (which means I need to get going on stripping and remaking the bed). Things are going fine here for us, with nothing major to write about, so I guess I will move forward with my afternoon!