Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doing a little better now...

I ran over to the clinic and got my errand done there, I browsed at Target for a half hour or so (got bird seed for the feeders and carpet cleaner for the steam machine); then I browsed at The Bead Place, where they have some lovely new yarns in, and I ran by JoAnn's to see if the hours were up yet for Sunday. Given they aren't posted yet, and the person doing the schedule won't be in til Thursday (and that is the day I plan to leave for MN) I was told to just leave a note for the manager that I cannot work on Sunday as I will be out of town, and that should cover me. When I got home I still had a pretty fierce headache, so I popped some ibuprofen and drank some water, and it's much better now.

Sadly, the dishes have not been washed, nor has the kitchen been cleaned, so I will be dealing with that shortly. Eric has class tonight, so he won't be home til after 10:30 or so; he is off tomorrow and Thursday, but has class in the morning, so he'll be up early doing homework before he leaves. I have a ton of chicken breasts roasting right now and what isn't eaten will be diced up for salads or quesadillas. Brie is working on reading her Chemistry book and doing assignments; she says she is trying to get a head start on college for next spring. Aurora had a bad sore throat last night, but is feeling better today. She continues to lay low today/tonight. Rei is off at a friend's down the street, and Patrick was gone all night last night and most of today with friends. He swung by home, but has now headed out again to go watch a movie at someone else's house. Patrick is developing quite the social life!

I think I am gonna spend tonight watching tv and working on some handwork, have not decided which project yet. I really want to get going on sewing up some garments I have the fabrics and patterns for (for me). I really need some better summer clothes, especially tops, given how hot it gets here. I have some really nice patterns I bought a year or so ago, complete with fabric and notions, all I need to do is lay them out, cut them out, and sew them up! I am excited!

So I am still a little edgy tonight, but not as crabby. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day!

Sooooo frustrated right now!

I have been on the phone for the better part of the morning with the Geek Squad, regarding the status of my desktop tower. They said that the "hardware" checked out just fine, therefore the error was in the software, namely the Window's operating system. And it is going to cost money to fix it. I said it is under warranty, and we even purchased the extended warranty package, so it should all be covered. No, they said, they are not responsible for software issues, that those are a separate charge... I asked what could disrupt the operating system "out of the blue" as it was (the blue screen of death popped up overnight, without it being played on, used, anything!) and he said it could be a virus (not probably--we are too careful with where we go, who uses it, and running the antivirus stuff faithfully), it could be because it wasn't shut down properly (again, unlikely as it is rarely shut down, just hibernates as a rule), or due to a power outage--that *may* be the culprit--we lost power in one of our really bad storms a week or so ago, including power surges prior to everything going black; or just a random "corruption" in the system... "who can say? There is no way to figure out the cause." Regardless, they are "not responsible" for it financially, we are. Then, they asked me for the recovery discs, as they need them to restore the system after they repair it... Huh? We were never given recovery discs, and to be honest, were never told we needed to make some... I pointed out they put everything on that is on it when we bought it, along with the protection package we purchased thru them (Best Buy/the Geek Squad), and we were NEVER given any discs of any sort... Long story short, I had to call Gateway to order (and pay for) recovery discs that will take up to 2 weeks to get here, then we need to take them in to the Geek Squad, before they can fix the tower. Then they argued briefly with me about putting the protections back in place, but when I had it on my receipt that we had paid for it, they backed down slightly and said they would replace the antivirus package at no extra charge (restarting the year of protection from the restore point). Needless to say I am frustrated. I have babied that tower and system; the kids are frustrated that they are not allowed to use it at all for anything, and I took great care of it! When it worked, it was amazing, and I loved it. I told them to go ahead and fix it, because if we don't it becomes a very expensive dust magnet (can't even use it as a gaming system or word processor without the window's operating system), but man I am ticked off.... AAAaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!

I am also a bit frustrated about the state of the house. Brie had said she'd do dishes yesterday as I was leaving for work; when I got home, after a long and busy day, the kitchen had not been touched. I asked her about it and she said, "oh yeah, I'll do them at 3", so I went upstairs to change, relax (ended up taking a nap for a bit). Went back downstairs to start dinner, and NOTHING had been done! I totally cleaned the kitchen, from top to bottom, made dinner, and told her how disappointed I was that she didn't follow through. Late last night, she again decided to "cook" (made waffles for herself and some friends), and I went downstairs to total and complete chaos again in the kitchen this morning... Flour all over the counter, dishes stacked, syrup out; I couldn't even get to the coffee pot to make some! She was sleeping, so I didn't talk to her about it, just made my coffee, got some breakfast, and meandered back upstairs to then fight with the geek squad. Now I find out they made cookies... I hope they clean the kitchen too because I will raise hell if I have to clean up after their cooking. I always clean up as I go, so that the mess is minimal when I bake!

I need to run to the clinic and pick up Aurora's orders for her ultrasound, then run to the base and make her appointment. I also need to run to target and get a few things we need. But before I do any of that, I have to write an email to Eric with his homework questions typed up because he forgot the handouts at home and he has to finish up on that before class tonight (He's at work). Just remembered about that one!

I may write more later. Sorry for being cranky right now!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Been a busy morning today!

I got up extra early this morning to make a giant Toll-House pan cookie (basically bars out of cookie dough) for church; Eric had to read, the kids were servers, and I was assigned the "fellowship" after church with another woman. We were also on tap as greeters before the service. We did the whole church thing, getting home shortly before 12:30 p.m, and now we are just vegging out, making loose plans for the afternoon. I am leaning towards going back to the pool today. Eric and I went for an hour late yesterday afternoon and it was lovely--with temps near 100 degrees the water felt heavenly, and it was nice to just be, he and I on our own! Then we came home, grilled steaks, potatoes, and corn on the cob, and had a nice relaxing dinner. We even opened one of our bottles of wine from our winery tour a few weeks ago. It was very tasty!

It is looking like ALL the kids and I are going to go to MN next weekend for the 4th. Eric has to work, so he'll stay here with the dogs, but the kids and I will head up on Thursday after they are done at school, and we'll stay til Sunday. My sister has invited us to go up to the lake for the few days we are there, and that will be lovely. Liisa has taken Friday and Saturday off so that she can go too, and maybe Tony, Andrea, and the little ones can join us too on the 4th. We'll see. Today is Justin's 4th birthday, and it is the first one I have not been present for. I am sorta blue with that. I talked to him on the phone this morning and he really wants me to go to his house! The plans for Aurora and Patrick to go to IN fell through, so they were home this weekend and Brie's plans to go to her mom's for the week have also fallen through. I am not sure of all the details on why it wasn't a go (the issues were on their mother's side, not ours) so I won't speculate on it here. The kids were glad to be home, and have had a fun weekend between hanging with friends and going to the pool. Low key, but nice.

We had the cable guy out again this morning; it's looking more and more like there is a problem in the TV itself where the cable is attached that isn't properly converting the signal. We have static for sound now, instead of real sound, yet when we hook up the xbox or other gaming systems, the sound is fine. It is the same static whether we run the cable through the converter box or the tv, so the issue is on our end and not with Charter. We also have a mess on the kids' relatively brand new computer: it has a virus on it that has locked up the antivirus stuff, won't let the system restore work, and basically has made it a piece of ineffectual crud--a high priced word processor/game system. We cannot get it to hook up with the internet or anything. We took it in to best buy to see what they thought and they gave us some remedies to try here, but they are not working, so plan B will need to be bringing it in for servicing or just getting a new tower (at this point it's almost 6 of one, half a dozen of the other). Eric neglected for whatever reason, putting the extended warranty on it, so we have to make some choices regarding fixing it. My tower of my new computer also has issues, but being under warranty still, it will be repaired at no cost to us. In the case of mine, it's a hardware issue and not a virus or something I did to it... Technology is great when it works, but when it doesn't....

Anyhow, that is what's new with us today. Eric heads into his hell week tomorrow morning, and I work tomorrow, then am off the rest of the week. Hopefully this week will go smoother than last week did!

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's been a heckofa week!

And I am so very glad it's over! If something could go wrong over these past few days it did, and now we are (I hope) in the cleanup phase and can be done with it! I also have a bunch of misc. pictures to share, in no particular order, with no rhyme nor reason... Just some things I have photographed for one reason or another that I found amusing or made me happy.

This first picture, to the right, is from Eric and my "date" after taking Kimmie to the airport, sitting at Houlihan's, outside at Union Station, with the lovely Marriott to the right of us, and the hungry koi in the pool in front of us. It was such a beautiful day, and yet it felt amazing to be sitting outside, having lunch with my wonderful husband (my three martini "minitini" lunch). It is a beautiful site, and I hope St. Louis continues to promote businesses to open there. It is a wonderful site for boutiques and specialty shops, although in this economy there is always a risk to opening something special...
I told Liisa when she comes to visit me the end of July that we for sure would make a trip here to Houlihan's and Union Station so she could enjoy the magic of a site similar to her Marriott Depot from Minneapolis.

This next picture is how the kids and I had the table set for Eric for Father's day. It greeted him on his arrival home after work (we were not thrilled with the idea of getting up at 3:30/4 am so we could surprise him with gifts etc. before he left for work). Luckily for us, he had a short day and was off at 2 pm. I had been so excited to be surprising him with a circular saw that I bought all by my lonesome, however the surprise was on me: he already has one out in the garage! (I could have sworn he said he only had a table saw and wanted a circular saw...) Oh well! I tried! I also bought him the most delicious cologne for men: Aqua de Gio. He smells wonderful wearing it! The kids got him some "short socks" just for him (Eric hollers that the boys have stolen all his short socks and that he's only "allowed" to wear the taller socks), and Reimond picked out a really cute Snoopy t-shirt for him that Eric wears proudly. Brie bought him a "You're my Hero" dog from the Build-a-Bear workshop, as well as a very handsome engraved ID bracelet, and we had heartfelt cards and notes for him too that made him tear up and feel loved. Eric has been playing catch with Rei in the back yard of late, so Rei added the gloves and balls to the "display" because as he said, "Nothing says Dad like Baseball!" Eric was really touched, and said that no one has every really made a fuss for him for fathers day before, and he was really surprised and pleased by our attempt to make it special for him. I grilled pork chops and made dinner while he napped (he wasn't feeling well--sinus allergies or something), and we had a nice evening with the kids.

We have had some crazy weather here of late: first there was the non-stop storms; this photo is of a wall of clouds with a severe storm ahead of it that barely grazed us; I continue to be amazed at how great the sky seems here, so much more open and "bigger" than in Minneapolis. Perhaps it is our lack of towering trees where there had been corn and wheat fields, but I love to watch the skies. We are now in day 10 of 90+ degree temps, and with the humidity we have had a heat index of up to 105-115 degrees. It has been miserable! Tomorrow is supposed to be our hottest day yet, near 97-98 real temps and 100+ heat index...

I am very pleased: I made my first knitted lace shawl. It is technically a "shoulder shawl" because it is not full size--something I really hadn't been aware of when I started it, and if I make it again (which I will, I love this pattern and how it turned out!) I will make it bigger... This is what it looked like as I blocked and dried it on the futon in the front room, and the next pic is a close up of the colors and the lace pattern. It took me exactly one month to make from beginning to end, a fast, easy, beautiful project!

So what has gone wrong of late? Our cable tv box is screwing up on us on the main floor. Something either in the DVR box or the cable; we have picture but no sound, then we had sound but no picture; then, when the tech came out and couldn't figure out what was wrong, he switched a few things around and said it must be our TV... I had him put things back together the way they were and it worked! But he didn't get our DVR box reset and just after he pulled away we only had channels 1-27 instead of all of them to 99... We now either need to take the box to Belleville and get it reset ourselves, or we need to wait for a tech to come back out on Sunday morning...

Then there was the major project Rei had for English due (for Thursday) which he didn't tell me about until dinner time Wednesday night; we got going on it, and I was up until after midnight typing it for him (he does not type well at all). He had to turn it in as well as do an oral presentation of it; he has never written an outline before, so that was a learning process for him, and he has never done an oral presentation either. Fortunately we got it all completed, and he actually got 90% on it, a solid B. I was very proud of him, despite how stressed I was over it all.

Some of you may be aware of the phobia I have around frogs--this creature in this photo had the audacity to be sitting on the grass near my new tree when I was filling up my bird feeder and I almost stepped on him. Rei and Patrick were playing catch in the back yard and were quite amused when I screamed and jumped a foot, then put myself in the house... Rei caught it and put it into a rubbermaid tub by the house where I very bravely screwed up my courage and photographed him... I HATE frogs with a passion!
Here is a picture of our "birthday tree" with my beautiful new bird feeder next to it on a shepherd's crook (the branches are not yet strong enough to hang the feeder in the tree). I am so enjoying them both!

Let's see, what else about this week... The kids were to be spending the weekend with their mother, and she was supposed to pick them up today for IN. She called Patrick to see if Eric could drive them to her today, and she'd bring them home Sunday; when Eric called her about this yesterday she decided to cancel the weekend because something came up that would delay her ability to spend time with them. This works for us, in that Eric and the kids all had school this morning, and even if we drove them, we would not get them there til this evening, and then still have the drive home again... Sunday we have church commitments--the kids are supposed to serve, Eric is to read, we are to greet, and I have to help at fellowship after service... It would have severely messed things up to be on the road to pick the kids up in IN. So we are all relieved to have a "quieter" weekend. We will probably spend part of it at the pool!

Rei and Aurora got pretty badly sunburnt at the pool the day I took these. They were there from 11:30 am til 5 pm and they didn't have any sunscreen on... Aurora made me laugh because she said to me "What kind of Mother are you to let us leave the house with no sunscreen on??? You should have grabbed us by the ear and dragged us back in til we were coated up!" Made me laugh! I put sunscreen on ME before I joined them there, and I got a nice base tan started! The kids have really been enjoying our pool pass, and I have too. Eric went with them on Monday to the pool while I was working, so we are all indulging in it! I am so glad we got it!

Other challenges: my desktop computer needs to go in to the Geek Squad to be looked at: this morning I went to get on it and it had the "blue screen of death" up with a message that a fatal error had occurred and that there was either a hardware or software issue on it that needed to be fixed before I could use it again. I rebooted it as instructed and got the same message, so I will take it in this afternoon. It is still totally under warranty, but it is just a PITA to have to do this. We have to take the kid's desktop in too as it won't connect up to the internet. My laptop is struggling with there being a connection issue between the power cord and the battery; that is lower on my priority list to deal with UNLESS the desktop issue is too major... Still, with my desktop being only 5 months old, they should just replace it if nothing else... I had a mix up in my personal checking account that I hope will be easily resolved; I need to make a trip to the bank and talk to them about it... More annoying than earth shattering, but frustrating none-the-less... And we need to swing by the clinic to get a form for Aurora to have a follow up ultrasound on her pelvic pain; once that is done we should know more about what is going on in her hip area with the tendonitis type pain she has been dealing with for close to 3 months now.

Things have settled some with Brianne; she is home but rarely present; she has been working a few more hours again (close to full time), and she has continued to spend lots of time at the neighbor's a few doors down. The wedding last Saturday was lovely, and she had fun. She has a new guy she is "dating" and he seems nice enough. My biggest concern about her continues to be her lack of participation as a family member here. She is home to sleep, sometimes to eat; she does her laundry here, and watches movies or uses the internet, but she still hasn't finished her room, she doesn't really tell us what her plans are (she just comes and goes as she pleases), although she has gotten better about asking before using the van, and she has put in gas once. I know this is all a part of growing up, but it would be nice to have her participate more. She is supposed to be going to her mother's for a week, leaving Sunday (I *think* her mom is coming down to get her, unless that falls through too). I am glad she is making peace with her mom, but it makes me sad that it came about initially as an "In Your Face" reaction to Eric laying down the law here...

Reimond and Kimmie have decided to "break up" and the plan is for Kimmie to go back home when she gets back into town mid August. She and Rei talk all the time, and have chosen to remain friends, but they are no longer "going out". I am really proud of how they have chosen to handle this and themselves over it. Rei started boxing up Kimmie's stuff and either we will drop it off at her house, or someone from there will pick it up when her parents get back into town (her dad's job is nearing completion whereever he is currently working). I hope, I pray this all works out for her. She is a sweetheart and she deserves to have a stable, happy life. This break has been so good for Reimond, and he has been dealing really well with all of it! The two of them have impressed me with their maturity and understanding!

Cliff is finding that life as an adult is full of challenges. He took the kids last weekend for an overnight--they had a fire in their fire ring and just hung out and played video games, etc. Eric and I provided Subway for them for dinner and sent cereal and milk for breakfast--Cliff had NO food in the house for himself or guests, lol. I think he really misses being a part of a family unit and he has been wonderful to stay in touch with and be active with all the kids, especially Rei. Cliff wrote the most beautiful note to Eric for father's day last weekend, and it made both of us tear up. He is such a sweet boy, and is growing into such a responsible man! I am so glad we have been able to help support him and show him love.

Patrick had been really helpful the first week of vacation around here prior to heading out with friends, but the last few weeks has really slacked off. He has done some of the round-about plans-making: can I go to a movie, leaving the impression it's an early afternoon show, then calling after the tickets have been bought (at 9 pm) to say it's a 9:45 show and he'll be home "later"... He has been better about calling to check in, sometimes, but is hit and miss when he follows through on things. I see glimpses of responsibility and then it disappears... The joys of parenting young adults! It HAS been nice to see him bringing friends home more though, and I really appreciate that. I like knowing who he's hanging with and what they are up to!

Aurora is focusing on driving. She does well, Eric says so. The day I rode with her behind the wheel I was in the back seat and after white-knuckling it for a few minutes I just looked out the window rather than forward (Eric was in front with her). She DOES do well, she is just new at it. I stand by my decision to not drive with her til she is more experienced. I would make both of us too nervous any other way! She and Rei spend lots of time at the pool, and she spends time on the computer or watching Animal planet. She and Rei have started walking the dogs more, and her goal is to get Po to be better behaved on the leash. It's fun to see!

Liisa is coming down for a week vacation the last week of July, and Jesse is gonna fly in on the 31st to join us, then they will drive home together on the 2nd, Eric and my 1st anniversary! It is Mascoutah's homecoming weekend, and there will be parades, craft shows, picinics, and and auto show. It will be so fun to have her/them here! I cannot wait! I had a fun conversation with Justin on the phone the other day; he was getting frustrated with me because I could not see his game he was playing through the phone... I miss my babies! I had toyed with going to MN next weekend, taking all the kids with me, but I first need to figure out what I work next weekend before I lock in my plans. I was leaning towards going, but now am leaning towards staying home (Aurora and Patrick would like to go to MN) because of gas money etc. Eric and I have some thinking to do about it.

Lastly, I wanted to say how stunned and saddened I am by Michael Jackson's death. It's not hitting me as hard as Lady Diana's did, and yet I am sad. I grew up with his music and performances (he is almost 4 years older than me), and I followed his antics in the teen mags and the tabloids through the years. I have loved his music and always thought he was an amazing and talented performer. Liisa has really been hit hard by his death. As we were talking today, his music has essentially been the sound track of her life and has been in the background of many of her memories. I am of the opinion that prescription drugs played a role in his passing, and I feel badly that he has had such a tragic life in many ways. I still have my doubts about whether or not he was a pedophile; admittedly his behaviors and decision-making skills have been lacking at times, but I don't know that he was abusive. As with Elvis' passing when I was 12, I will always remember this day, just as I remember Diana's death (I was watching it on the news after I came home from work on the night of her accident and death), and JFK jr.'s, whom I also had an indirect personal connection to (my aunt's sister in law was the caretaker of the Kennedy's Hyannis Port "Compund" and we took a tour of it once when I was a kid). The other two celebrity deaths this week haven't has as big an impact on my thinking--Farrah Fawcett was lovely but ill, and her death wasn't unexpected, and Ed McMahon was old! Michael Jackson was just a bit older than me, and while his health wasn't great, he wasn't "old". I feel so badly for his kids, and for his mother. I pray he has found peace, and that the media shows some respect to them and their grief.

Eric just called and is on his way home, so I guess I should wrap up this novel. We have lots of running to do when he gets here, so I should get myself organized!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's day weekend...

This is Father's day weekend, and with it comes lots of memories of my father, a man I totally adored and respected. 15 years ago yesterday was his last father's day with us, and it was one of the most wonderful of days: we had Reimond baptized on that date, with my brother Neal and his wife Jenna standing as Godparents. They travelled up to MN from Dallas, TX, where they were living at the time, and all of us were together, from Sunday service through the rest of the day and evening. The entire Heikkila clan. It was a perfect, sunny, MN summer day, we had a reception at our house after the church service, then it was back to Mom and Dad's for swimming in the pool, strawberry picking, and an alfresco meal on the deck. My dad was so proud and pleased: his namesake was dedicated to God, his children and grandchildren were all present, and it was a wonderful day. We had no idea it was one of our last celebrations we would have with him. He had gotten through a previous health crisis, he was feeling better than he had in ages, and it was just one of those perfect summer days that stays in your memory.

My dad was my rock and my best friend. We could talk about anything and everything. I was never afraid to bring things to my dad because he was always willing to listen to me, to hear me out, and to even concede the point if he was proven wrong. He presented such a gruff, reserved exterior to the world, but to us he was just Dad/Pop. I have so many good memories of all us kids sitting with him on the couch eating popcorn and watching the "scary" saturday night movie on TV (after baths and pjs were on, of course), while mom finished whatever she was doing and grumbled about the content being too scary for us kids. He taught me my love of science fiction and fantasy, he challenged me to be open to people and ideas that were different from my own, he encouraged my creativity, and he shared my love of words and ideas. We could discuss aliens, religion, current events, and jokes, all within the same conversation, ideas flowing from one to the other without interruption. We would play cards on Sunday night after dinner, and I always had to partner him, because our play style was so similar that if I didn't I'd get called names (usually for beating him to the pot in canasta). We'd also play trivial pursuit as a family, and while my mom rarely participated in the actual games (preferring to chase the grandbabies around), she would chime in answers for those who were stuck, to the pleasure or chagrin of the rest of us... He loved being the patriarch of the family, and having us all together for Sunday dinner and games was a tradition he relished.

I worked with my dad at the grocery store for many years, and it was both a pleasure and a curse. I had a guarenteed job with a steady income, and could have time off as I needed it for school or social events, BUT if I screwed up I was in trouble at home as well as at work, and if someone called in sick I couldn't get away with lying and saying I had "something else" going on that prevented me from covering the shift--he knew my schedule... Liisa took her first steps at the pet shop because Pop was doing something with the crickets and she just had to see what it was... My dad always challenged me to be my best, even when I was giving 100%, but always gave me credit for trying if I fell short. He was my rock and my best friend.

I was blessed to be the last person to talk to and be with my dad on the day he died. Reimond, who was not quite 6 months old, was at the hospital with me to be with him during his angiogram, and I joked about spending the morning with "my two Rei's, the big one and the little one". His last words to me were to take care of my mother, after trying to prepare me that this would be his day to leave us, and when I told him he could count on me, he told me he knew he could. That entire, rushed conversation stays firmly planted in my memories. I used to call my dad randomly throughout the day to share with him little anecdotes or thoughts. After he was gone I continued to randomly start dialing the phone to call him, or to wander aimlessly around my mother's house looking for him with my heart, even though I knew he wasn't there. When I was home visiting two weekends ago I went to the cemetary to let him know I was there...

Even though it's been almost 15 years, I still miss my dad. I miss his quiet, warped sense of humor, I miss his gentleness, I miss his steadiness. I wish he were here to see how happy I am, to see what a good man I married, what a good life I now have. I wish he could see how tall and handsome his namesake has become, and how all of the kids have grown and matured into people he would be proud of. And I am grateful to see his legacy lives on, in my brothers, in my sons, in my nephew, even in myself (and the rest of our female line too)! Although my dad is gone, but he isn't forgotten. He is much loved still.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another later than normal post for me...

but it's been a busy day. Kimmie finally got travel arrangements made by her father, and she left this morning for Arizona. He called with the details early evening last night, and she had an 11:45 a.m. flight today. They went with Southwestern Airlines because it is one that does no require an unaccompanied minor surcharge, and she only had one plane change, in Kansas City. She called me at 4 p.m. to say she was there and safe, and it was arranged that an older brother of her friend would be meeting her on that end. I was a bit worried about her getting on the plane: she had NO ID (she had to turn in her school ID at the end of the school year, and her birth certificate was with her parents in another state). She showed the TSA agent her ticket and explained that she was only 14 and they let her go through! I was relieved that they let her, but given our heightened security at the airports, I was worried. She will be in AZ thru mid July, and is still planning to go to Canada to see other family friends for a few weeks, if the ID situation can be figured out. She was a happy girl to be going and I was glad for her.

Eric and I both went with her to the airport, then we stopped off at Union Station for some browsing and lunch. We went to Hoolihan's, and sat outside on the deck overlooking the lake/pond they have there. We had a delicious lunch and I was tickled to try a Trio Mini-tini: a choice of three small flavored martini's from a list of about 7-8 flavors/kinds. I had a Key Lime, a Chocolate, and a Raspberry flavored martini. Never had a three martini lunch before (although I had heard of them in the movies, heeheehee) and it was very nice! We continued on the train to Scott, then ran to pick up my prescription refills, and to buy aloe for the kids. Yesterday Rei and Aurora went to the pool around 11:30 or so, and I joined them there around 2:30. I was smart and put on sunscreen before I left (SPF 30), while the brats didn't put on any at all! We were there until they closed for the adult swim at 5, and we had a wonderful time! They, of course, were lobsterfied by the time they got home, and we dosed them with ibuprofen and what aloe we had here at home over night; we found some today that has lidocaine in it to help with the tenderness, so that is what they are using this afternoon and evening. They are moving fairly stiffly today, and chose to stay inside in the air conditioning and just take it easy for the day.

After we got home from our outing we got some paperwork together because we had an appointment this afternoon, and after that Eric decided to mow the lawn. He came in wringing wet, as today was the hottest day of the year so far (he started mowing at 6 pm). By 10 he was wiped out and in bed. Probably for the best, given he works at 6 am tomorrow. I too am working tomorrow, 8:30 - 1:30, but I will need to get up extra early to drive Brianne to work first, come home and be sure the kids are up for school, ready myself for work, and be back on the road by 8. Then, I need to pick Brie up again and bring her home with me, so we will be here finally around 2:30/3 pm. Eric works all weekend, but I am off (I believe--gotta check the schedule to see if I work Sunday or not).

Letterman has been a bit entertaining lately, but I haven't kept it on beyond his monologue. Sometimes I really enjoy his top 10 lists, but nothing has been too intriguing lately (worth staying up for). I think it's time I go to bed too--Eric's alarm goes off at 4 am, he needs to leave by 5, and Brie has to be on the road by 5:30 for her 6 am start... Blech! I am gonna need my coffee tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Late on a Tuesday night...

I am still up, even with Eric sleeping, because I was waiting to hear if indeed I need to get Kimmie to the airport early tomorrow morning. The original plan was for her to fly to Canada today for a couple of weeks, then on to Arizona for 4 weeks, split between 2 households, but because she doesn't have a passport, that was switched around some, and plan B was for her to go to AZ first, then on to Canada once the ID stuff got figured out. She was told she needed to be at the airport for a 6 am flight tomorrow morning, but wasn't given any other details; then the issue of her being an unaccompanied minor reared it's head (only Southwestern Airlines isn't picky about Unaccompanied minors), and we have waited all day to hear about plan C. As of 10 p.m. we had a very upset little girl on our hands who has no idea of what the plans are at all! Her dad never got back to her with the flight info, and her mom said to give it another day... I am confused as all get-out as to what we are to be doing with her. She is excited to go, has people waiting on her flight information (myself included) and communication isn't going so well... Personally I am fine with her staying here with us, but I do need to know what is going on if I have to get her to the airport. At 14 she is too young to make all these plans and decisions on her own, at least in my opinion! So I am sitting up for a bit.

Aurora is now doing her behind the wheel and is eager to practice every chance she gets. I will be honest, I am not the bravest driver at the best of times, so I am not going to go driving with her until she is more experienced/confident behind the wheel. This is disappointing to her because she wants to GO, but I can't do it. My nerves wouldn't do so well with that. I know Eric says she does fine, but she has very little experience under her belt as yet, and I can't do it... Didn't with my older two either, Liisa drove with her older boyfriend (she was 18 anyhow), and Tony drove with his dad. Patrick's permit has expired so we need to get him a new one, then he will need some practice too before heading out for his license... Reimond we have some time to wait on before he takes driver's ed. Eric's frustration is that the school expects us to take them joy riding essentially to get "hours" in, and we don't have the time nor the the gas money to accommodate that. Aurora is liking it anyway, so that is all good.

Reimond is doing fine staying up on homework so I am proud of him. Patrick has voluntarily done some chores around the house before heading off with friends, so that is good too, and the kids are making good use of our Pool pass. I figure I will be using it over the coming days as the heat index gets into the 100's and real temps top 90+ degrees. Brianne is back living primarily at home, although she is rarely here. Right now her focus is at the neighbor's as they ready for a wedding of a friend of her's. She has been helping there most of her free time. Her room is showing sparks of being worked on, which is nice. And after a fairly volatile weekend, things are somewhat settled--at least there is no yelling for the nonce. I have only been scheduled to work on Friday this week, so I have been picking up specific chores to do each day, then focusing on one project or another to pass the time. I am keeping myself occupied...

Eric and I had a lovely time on our winery tour and wine tasting outing. We really enjoyed the day, with good wines, good food, and good people (there were 8 others we went with). It was something I would love to do again. We bought 2 bottles of wine that we liked, and that was nice too. Not sure when we will open them, but we have them to look at anyway! It was really nice to get away for the day and just enjoy each other's company!

I still have not heard anything more from Kimmie (she was waiting for a phone call from her dad), so I guess I will go to bed. I am sure the kids will wake me up if they need me. Good night!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carrying the crosses we are asked to bear

is never an easy task. I have had many heartfelt discussions with a dear friend about how praying "Thy will be done" is the hardest of prayers to pray, because for so many of us, "my will" trumps "thy will" every time. We are in one of those situations right now, and I have had to lay it in my heavenly father's hands, because there are no easy answers here for us with where things are at. Only God knows what His plan is for all of us, and we have to trust in it, and in His timing, rather than trying to make things go as we would like. Sometimes being a Christian means more than just paying lip service to the teachings of Christ, and it means walking the walk as well as talking the talk. Eric and I are trying to do this in our daily lives and set a good example for the kids. But it means standing firm on what we represent when it's hard, and not just when it's easy and rewarding. Parenting sucks sometimes. Living what one believes to be true sucks sometimes. The rewards are not always self-evident or even obvious. But that doesn't negate the fact that there are times you need to do what is necessary because that is the cross you have been given, and that is the path that you need to walk.

I am not going to get into specifics here, because those are neither here nor there. Suffice it to say, life has had some challenges in these past few months, and those challenges continue to be real and emotionally draining at times. Still, by God's grace and love, we will get through them, and we will be fine. It is all in His hands, not ours.

Friday, June 12, 2009


It's friday and I'm glad. I taught my class today and it went well, however, I only had 2 kids sign up and only one showed. The class is 2-2hour sessions to make simple lounge pants (I will have to take a picture of the pair I made as a sample--it's adorable and I love the fabric I used, even if it was more expensive than I had intended). The young girl that was there enjoyed her 1-1 attention, and she completed her pants except for the hems on the legs; she was under the impression that it was only one class, and will be on vacation next week, so we will see if my other student shows for that class. Regardless, I am on the schedule for the morning, so I will be there working either way.

Summer school is going fine for the kids. Kimmie decided to not go, so she is finding other things to occupy her time; rumor has it that she will be doing some travelling to visit family friends over the next month (Canada and Arizona). We haven't been given many/any details as yet so my guess is it's still in the talking stages right now. Patrick has been awesome in doing chores first thing in the morning before heading off to hang with friends, which I am really appreciating, and Aurora is driving for the first time with her dad (to the grocery store), as she needs to get in 6 hours of driving before Monday. Brianne is living back at home for the time being and so far, so good. I hope it continues to go well! Reimond is staying on top of his homework, and I think this will be good for him to have the structure of summer school. Our pool pass has come in handy so far and the kids have made good use of it. If the temps go up to what they are predicting for mid-next week, I will be making good use of it as well!

Eric and I are going on a wine-tasting tour tomorrow with some people he knows from work. We will be meeting at their house, then taking a party bus with a number of other couples to tour some wineries in the St Louis area and I am really looking forward to this. It sounds like lots of fun! He is off this weekend and we are going to take advantage of it! This is something I have always wanted to do and have never done before, and I guess the couple that has arranged it do it each year for their wedding anniversary. What a nice idea!

I'm really enjoying my bird feeders out front. The birds have discovered the feeders and it is so much fun to see them flock to the tree and snack. We have doves there as well as more common birds, and while I still need to hang my humming bird feeder, I really like sitting on the swing watching them. Even sitting here on my bed I can see the birds as they gather in the tree out front, and it makes me smile. Our new tree in the back is doing ok. We are debating staking it a bit because it is leaning slightly, not terribly noticable, but we see it and think we may need to help it adjust a bit.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go to MN last weekend. My heart feels restored and it was so wonderful to see everyone again. Living so close to everyone, I really feel like I took them for granted, and now, with the distance between us, I really appreciate being able to spend time with them when I can. Minneapolis feels home-like to me, and I love the comfort of being there, but Mascoutah, and Eric, is home for me now. I can appreciate being here more, having been back to see everyone, and recognizing that it truthfully isn't MY home any more. Things at Liisa's feel good, but different. It truly is becoming her space, and I appreciate that very much. She has made some nice changes to the main floor, and she is working hard on the yard and gardens. I miss what was, but I appreciate what I now have as well, and I am content.

I spent some time online looking at jobs again and I am still so discouraged over the lack of things in my field/area of expertise. I am considering if it makes sense for me to get recertified as a nursing assistant down here, because there are jobs for that available; I am interested in getting my butt back in school and perhaps focusing on an LMFT certificate (along with finishing my MS), but in the meantime, we need a more reliable second income, and I feel so hopeless sometimes in not contributing better to the family coffers... I have prayed over it until I am prayed out, and I know in my heart God has a plan, but I just don't see it yet and I am feeling so lost right now. It's not that I have given up on job hunting--I continue to check the listings on a regular basis; I am just discouraged that I haven't gotten responses from any of the resumes/applications I have already sent out. I am trying to be patient, but I feel bad when I see Eric stressing over bills. If anyone has any ideas, I am open to them!

That sums up my week this week. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Trip to MN and other random thoughts...

I decided to post some random pictures from my trip to MN. We had such a full schedule while we were there, although the weather really was a pain in the butt and didn't cooperate with us beyond our first day there, that Friday, June 5th. We got in to MN around 11:45 p.m. Thursday night, and got to bed around 12:30 a.m. Friday we were up by 7 as I had a hair appointment for Rei and I at my sister's for 8. I was thrilled to have highlights and low lights added back in to my hair, and to get a "decent" cut, and Rei got his hair cut as well to a wonderful short style. He is a bit self-conscious of it, but looks so handsome, and I am pleased with it. We then went out to lunch (me, Liisa, Rei, and Kimmie) with my good friend Debbie at Perkins, and while there was too much going on for an in-depth visit, it was filled with chat, catching up, and laughter. We parted with Deb, then headed back to Liisa's to get the puppies, who we then took on a long walk around Lake Harriet. The weather was lovely, and the puppies were exuberant!

Rei really wanted to show Kimmie the "Elf House", a hollow tree that someone decorated with a door, and who responds to notes left by the curious with detailed info of what life is like as the "Lake Harriet Elf". It is a magical little spot, and I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Elf, who is so kind to the curious. The puppies tried swimming for the first time, and that was so fun to watch. Liisa wants them to be fond of the water, and they were encouraged by a female yellow lab, who was chasing a tennis ball into the lake (they puppies I believe thought she was Max when they first spotted her, although the scents told them otherwise once they were close). I was amused to watch the puppies as they followed scents--coon hounds are great trackers, and it was obvious watching them as they followed various "trails" along the walking paths.
Then it was back to Liisa's where we readied for a barbeque. My friend Jill came over to join us, as well as some of Liisa and Jesse's friends and relatives, and we also had a fire, as the night was cooling off rather quickly. Andrea had to work, but she scooted over for a hug after her shift was done and it was great to see her!
Saturday we "slept in" for a bit, then the kids went one way (to the Mall of America) and I went another, first browsing at my favorite cross stitch shop (Stitchville USA, in Minnetonka, MN), then over to Tony and Andrea's to see the grandkids. I was so glad to see the babies and Andrea, and while I was sad Tony wasn't there too, I did talk to him on the telephone and heard that things were going fine for him in CA.

While I was over there, I got a call from the kids asking if I could come and pick them up. It had been raining all day, a steady, soaking rain (and despite it being much-needed, really put a damper to a small degree on my trip), and the kids were wet and cold. Justin immediately announced we should put his booster seat in my van so he could come with, and off he and I went to get the kids. We went back to Liisa's for a bit, then went to my Mom's for dinner. Andrea and Alexis met us there, as did Jenna and the girls, and we all had a wonderful dinner on Saturday night. It felt like old times! Only Neal, Tony, and my family (Eric and the kids) were missing, and had they been there, it would have felt "complete".

Sunday I made trips to my local quilt shop and yarn shop (I needed size 2 double pointed needles for some socks I am knitting), and I enjoyed browsing what was "new". Then I met Erika over at her place, and we went out to lunch. The renovations she is doing on the main bathroom are lovely (I really like the paint color) and I hope she sends me pictures of when it is totally done! We had a great lunch and visit, and I enjoyed seeing her face to face! Liisa and Jesse had had a full day as well, and Rei and Kimmie were with friend's of Rei's for the evening, so we ended our Sunday night with pasta from Pizza Hut for dinner, and an early night. Andrea and the kids came over, and we just had a quiet night. Monday I ran back to the cross stitch shop to get some threads I needed, then went to Andrea's where I baby sat the kids for a few hours (she had to go to work and her Mom was watching the kids in the evening). Rei and Kimmie again met up with friends of Reimond. Then Liisa made a fantastic taco dinner for all of us, and we had more family and friends over, including Rei's dad, who made a very brief appearance. It was very nice!

Tuesday morning I had an agenda, and while it was cloudy, the rains had finally quit, so off we ran to the Mall of America for books (for Rei and Kimmie) and Cinnabon's for breakfast. Then we ran to the cemetary so I could "have coffee with my dad" (I even poured out some next to his headstone so we could "share" it), followed by a stop at Minnehaha Falls, so I could get a few pictures. We dropped Liisa off at her house and said our goodbyes, then ran over to Andrea's to say goodbye there. The little ones didn't want us to go, but knowing we had a long ride ahead of us, we knew we couldn't stay too terribly long. After a story, some hugs, and kisses, (as well as high fives and fist bangs), we got into the van and headed off for IL. We actually got on the road at 11 a.m., an hour earlier than my "deadline time" to be on the road of Noon.

Eric had a relatively uneventful drive to and from IN to get Patrick and Aurora, and the kids reported that things went "okay". They spent time with their maternal grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins, and I guess were relatively active this trip. Eric then had class that night when he got home, so he was quite tired out. I think we all are finally recovering from all of our "vacations!"
The kids started summer school on Wednesday, and that seems to be going ok. Aurora needs to get in 6 hours of driving time outside of class between now and Monday (I think I will leave that up to Eric, heehee), and Reimond will need to be sure he does his homework (he's taking English). We got report cards today and Aurora did wonderfully, while Reimond and Patrick did as expected (but not so hot). Eric is at work, and I need to get going on a sewing project in anticipation of the classes I am teaching these next 2 Fridays at the fabric store.
I had a number of things on my mind that I wanted to write about today, but I think I will stop here for now. Perhaps I can get them better organized in my head so I can write more tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Safely home....

We got in about 9:10 p.m., after leaving Minneapolis at 11 a.m.. We had mild rain throughout much of Missouri, but otherwise the weather and the roads were fine. I am tired and desperately in need of something light to eat and my bed. I took a bunch of pictures that need to be uploaded to the computer and then I will post some here, but for now, I just wanted to say we are home, we had a wonderful time in Minneapolis, and I am so glad I missed the tornadoes/hail of yesterday. I have a picture of a golf ball sized hailstone in Eric's hand that they sent me a picture message of... The house is fine, the yard seems fine, and the dents in the Pilot are minimal.

I will write more tomorrow! Good night!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A final check in before our trip this weekend:

Rei, Kimmie, and I will be headed for MN after the kids get home from school. The laundry is done, although the rest of the house still needs some fine-tuning. Eric and I decided to steal some time for us and went to see "Angels and Demons" (Dan Brown, a Ron Howard movie) and it was very good. The book was better, of course, but the movie was good. I just wish it had been a bit less graphic with some of the murder scenes... I prefer subtlety to explicitness. I found out that Eric has neither seen "The DaVinci Code" nor has he read the book, so some of the references in this movie were lost on him. He liked it though, and I was glad we could see it together.

I am driving the van up. Since having it fixed, the gas mileage has significantly improved, it handles well, and the mechanic said it is good to go. We will add washer fluid to it in the morning and double check the rest of the fluids, and of course once I am there, have many mechanics who can double check things for me if need be. Tony is in California for the next two weeks, won't even be at his graduation from Welding school. He is going through some specialized training courtesy of the Army Reserve, and is somewhere outside of Las Vegas, because one of his army buddies lives in Vegas now with his wife and baby, and Tony is hoping to get together with them at some point. We were both disappointed I won't see him this trip, but I will make a point to go back up there to see him (or have him come down to me) later this summer. He is still talking about deploying back to Iraq with his unit when the go in September, so I am saying lots of prayers.

Aurora and Patrick are headed to IN with their mom sometime Friday afternoon. Brie said she would be here with them when their mom comes to get them, as Eric will be at work (he works all weekend). He will make the trip to pick them up for Tuesday, so we all will be on the road Tuesday! He really won't have too much time to enjoy being home alone and I think he'll actually enjoy the peace and quiet. That has been sadly lacking around here for quite awhile.

I will take my lap top with me so I will be available by email while I am gone; probably won't do any blogging though til I get back. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chores, the never-ending cycle!

I went down into the laundry room this morning and I swear our garments procreate! Every time I think I have caught up with everything the room refills, like the straw in the story Rumplestiltskin, and I have to somehow turn it into gold...er....clean clothes. The kids tend to do their own laundry but it looks something like this: 10 p.m. "oh man, I need clothes for tomorrow"... hurry scurry gather everything up, dump it on the laundry room floor, then fill the washer til it's so full there is no room for water; add detergent, and start it.... "Mooooommmm, can you throw my stuff in the dryer for me before you go to bed cuz I am really tired and have nothing to wear tomorrow"..... So I either stay up til the washer is done, then head down and switch the load (because there is always another load to put in, isn't there?) and sigh at the clean clothes that have been heaped into baskets (sometimes only semi-dry, because it was imperative to get that new load started...) and begin the process of folding things. Or, Eric is gracious enough to switch the load to the dryer when he gets up at 4 am so things are dry by the time the symbiants are awake and moving, but still leaving me the baskets of clean clothes to deal with after I get downstairs. /sigh, it's a never ending battle against the forces of evil!

Needless to say, I am doing laundry today, because I need clean shorts and stuff to pack for the weekend, Eric needs clean uniform stuff for work, and I get tired of looking at dirty clothes! My goal is to have the house as clean as possible before we all take off on Thursday/Friday, so all Eric has to worry about is the dogs and watering the tree. Dishes are also on my list of chores for the day because the dishwasher needs to run at least once each day, and I would really like to get a start on the vaccuuming. Dogs (and cats) are shedding in this heat, and the floors reflect this.

The poor dogs are not happy that their leash has gotten shortened in the back yard. The old leash was 30 ft but they could wrap it around the new tree's trunk, and we were not happy about that. We tried to find a 25 ft leash but there wasn't a one at Pet Co, so we settled for a 20 ft lead instead. This way they can get their noses up to it, but cannot pee on it or go around it. Rei and Aurora have been taking Midnight and Leina for walks daily lately, but Po is just too strong for them to control. He has continued to be really naughty and sneaks out as much as he can. This morning Patrick was late for school because Po got out as he was leaving, so he had to give chase; this time Po went into the woods behind the trail and that was not good at all! I am not sure what he needs for exercise/challenge. He is still so puppy-like in many ways, and he needs room to romp and burn off some energy! I wish he were better behaved because then we could do more with him.

I am still fussing with my cold. The cough just won't let go, although if I am honest, it has only been since Saturday night, so not terribly long. I do fine as long as I use the cold medicines, but if I don't take them I get all congested and miserable again. Hopefully I will be on the upswing by the time we head for MN on Thursday afternoon.

That's all I have for today, I think. It's time to get back to the grind....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yay, it's all settled!

I went in to work this morning and followed up on my work schedule for this week. The manager who made the schedule acknowledged that I had turned in the request for time off, and she thought she had given it to me. I pointed out that as of Saturday night I was on for next Saturday, which would be difficult to do seeing as I was planning to be in MN that weekend, and she laughed and said "no worries," that she would correct it because it was her mistake. I was so relieved! I then spoke with our education coordinator and my class I am teaching in a bit less than 2 weeks has 2 students signed up for it, so I went and bought my pattern and fabric so I can make a finished product to show/share with the class. Another good feeling (although expensive! Neither the pattern nor fabric were on sale, so other than my discount, I paid full price! Good thing I really like them!).

Other than that I haven't done too much else today that I had on my agenda. I am feeling much better today, although I still needed a nap for a bit after I got home (I think it's the cold medicine that is making me drowsy), but now I feel up to tackling some of the chores and stuff I want to take care of before I go out of town. Eric is gonna have a very quiet weekend! Rei and I will be gone; Aurora and Patrick will be in IN; Brie is, to all intents and purposes not living at home any more; and Cliff now has a house he is renting with a few friends (about 20 mins from here in the next town over, NE from us). Kimmie's dad is supposed to be in town that weekend, so she will probably be with her parents, or bounce between her parents, here, and friend's houses in the neighborhood (although I did tell her she was welcome to come to MN with us too if that is how things work out). I'm sure Eric will get lots of gaming in while I am gone! He's going to need to go pick up Aurora and Patrick from IN for Tuesday morning, so my guess is he'll drive up on Monday sometime, spend the night in IN, and then drive back Tuesday morning. He starts his new term of classes that Tuesday night, so he'll need to be there.

The kids are home from school, so I guess I should go see what they are up to. Happy June 1st everyone!