Monday, December 29, 2014

#8 and #17 - Olivia's day with pictures

For Christmas, I wanted to give the girls some "experience" type gifts.  One of those gifts was a day just for them while we're all off for Christmas break this week.  Today was Olivia's day, and she got to spend a few hours alone with me, and then have dinner with Daddy.

We went to the Old Mill to take some pictures.  It's much more enjoyable to take pictures of them there now that they are older.  I remember when they were little that I would get so nervous being there with them, because there are so many places that they could just tumble over a railing into the water.  So, aside from the fact that it was cold and dreary, it was nice to wander around with her and take pictures of her.  She's 10, and not entirely fond of taking pictures, so I was thrilled to get some nice pictures of her actually smiling. 

Afterwards, I wanted to take her to the Arkansas Arts Center, but it was closed.  So we ended up at the mall, wandering aimlessly.  Then a trip to the orthodontist.  I wish the weather had been nicer.  It would have been fun to take a walk, but I know her well enough to know she wouldn't have had much fun in the cold.

She picked Golden Corral for dinner with Bill.  They rarely get to go there because I can't stand buffets.  Bill said she ate like a horse, which is unusual for her, but I'm glad.  She's so tiny.

We definitely need to try to do things like this again.  It's rare to have an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with any of the girls, and Olivia isn't as attention-seeking as her sisters in general, so it was a special time. 

#31 - Volunteer at a marathon - CHECK!

I checked the first thing off of my 40x40 list today!   I volunteered at the 3 Bridges Marathon. It's a fairly small marathon, I think only 300-400 runners.  But I adore the bridge system around here, so I've had a fascination with the marathon since it started last year. 

The plan was to bring the girls to cheer while I worked. I had been told I was working at the mile 19 station, so that would have worked perfectly. But I was actually assigned to the finish line, which was far more exciting, but I wasn't sure how well I could keep an eye on the girls.  I recruited my sister to come cheer with them so I didn't worry about them rubbing off or getting snatched. 

Now, the temp was in the 50s, so I thought it would be great. But it was windy and rainy, especially by the river, so it was COLD.  By the time I went home, I was soaked and freezing. It took HOURS to thaw my toes. 

My volunteer shift didn't begin until 11am, but we got there about 9am to cheer. Mile 19 passed by the Finish, so it was the perfect spot. But the girls were so cold by 11 that I sent them to the van and asked my sister to just come pick them up and take them home. 

I had three 1 hour shifts, passing out medals, then blankets, then clipping timing chips. I LOVED putting the medals around the runners necks! I enjoyed passing out blankets, too, and patting them on the back. I didn't clip many chips, because it was at the tail end of the race and only a handful of runners were left. 

My favorite moment was while I was passing out medals. A man came across the Finish and looked at me and said, "I need your shoulders. "  I was confused,  but stepped forward. He placed his hands on my shoulders and then just collapsed onto me. I held him up, telling him how awesome he was and helped get him to a table once he could walk. I'm not one to like to be touched, especially by strangers, but it was awesome to be there for him like that. 

It was just so inspiring.  All the different emotions in the runners' faces crossing the line. I loved every minute. And I stayed until the last runner finished, because I know how important it is to have support when you're at the back of the pack. I'll definitely volunteer again. Hopefully on a warmer day....

 The signs lasted about 15 minutes in the rain.  Bummer.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ho ho ho!

Oh my gosh, you guys, this Christmas has been so much fun so far!

Tonight will be my second time getting to play Santa's helper.  A friend of mine had a friend who had a friend who needed help getting presents for her kids this year, so I hooked them up with another friend of mine (is that enough "friends" for ya?) who is in the Salvation Army.  She was able to get them help, but couldn't get the gifts to them, so the girls and I are delivering them. 

The first time was Friday.  Thursday I had noticed the little angel tree at the grocery store still had 7 needy kids on it.  It made my heart a little sad and I wished I could just take them all off of the tree and taken care of them myself.  But I couldn't.  It wasn't a Salvation Army tree, it was set up by the school counselor at the school my kids go to and it was just kids from their school.  I know that the Salvation Army makes sure that all the kids are taken care of in their program, whether or not someone takes their angel off the tree, but since this wasn't an actual Salvation Army tree, I worried that these kids just weren't going to get anything at all.

So, when my boss got to work on Friday, she told us about this person who went into a local Walmart in a low-income area, and paid off ALL the lay-aways.  (If you're not familiar with lay-away, it's where a store holds items for you while you're making payments on it.)  $31,000.  It reminded me of wanting to take care of the remaining kids on the angel tree and I mentioned that.  My boss looked at me and said we should go get them off the tree then.  Take up a collection among our employees and get these kids a good Christmas.

When I got to the store, there were only 5 left.  I asked when the deadline was to get the gifts turned in, and found out it had actually already passed the day before.  She said if I could get the gifts there by lunchtime they could get them to the school on time.  So we went to work, collecting money from my coworkers and the few doctors that were here that day, then my boss and I ran out to go shopping.  We had about $280 and my boss had pledged to make up however much more was needed.  We spent about $60 at the book store, which she paid for, then we went to Walmart.  We didn't really pay much attention to how much we were spending.  My boss figured she'd have to cover quite a bit, but she was fine with that.  But when we got to the register, it was $200.  Amazing.  We got the kids a $10 gift card each with the rest of the money.  My boss only had to cover about $30.  We were just blown away at how easily it all went.

We took the gifts back to the grocery store and the employee in charge of the tree was just so excited to see us, because she had been really worried about what they were going to do with those last 5 kids.  She said they were going to try to collect money among the employees, and ask if the store itself could make a donation, but she was so relieved when she came in to work to find that someone had taken all of them off of the tree. 

My wish I made the night before came true, in a way.  I couldn't do it alone, but that's even better.  People coming together to help out other people... you just can't beat it. 

I can't wait to take the girls to make the delivery tonight.  I'm glad I can share this with them... I want them to know how important it is to help out people, to learn early that we are just so blessed to have the opportunity to do so.  I do wonder how they will process this with the concept of Santa, if they'll ask me why we need to take gifts to these kids, why Santa won't.  I'm not entirely convinced this year they really believe in Santa, I know they've heard otherwise from friends at school.  If I am asked, I will tell them the truth.  That Santa isn't some fat guy at the North Pole.  Santa is a part of our soul, the part that loves to make people, especially kids, smile and feel loved.  And that the best part of Christmas isn't actually getting presents from Santa, but being Santa ourselves. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Isn't he cute?

Tonight I get a night off! I used to play a game with some friends of mine called Pokeno, but once the girls came along and Bill started working nights, I couldn't play anymore.  But at Christmas time, my brother-in-law offers to watch the girls so I can go play.  We do a Dirty Santa gift exchange, which is always a lot of fun. I have gotten a lot of really cute Christmas decorations from my Pokeno group.

This year, I decided to make something instead of buying something.  I had seen a Pin for a similar little elf and figured I could whip one up without a pattern (because the pattern for the Pin was not in English and crochet patterns rarely translate well).  I think he turned out really cute.


I got a little crafty with my presents for Bill's side of the family.  I had mentioned a few weeks ago that I was having Chocolate Gravy for breakfast and not a single one of them had ever heard of it.  It's a Southern thing, and they're all Yankees.... but it's soooo good.  (Not really good FOR you... you're basically eating warm chocolate pudding for breakfast)  So I decided to give them a taste.  I mixed up all the dry ingredients and put it in a mason jar.  Then I slapped a label on with directions and sent them off on Tuesday.  I can't wait to find out how they like it.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Inspired by Natalie, I put doing a Dietbet on my 40 before 40 list. I tend to buckle under the pressure of giving myself a goal like this, but I'm going to give it a shot. 

And I'm probably insane for this, but I'm starting one on Monday. Yep, over Christmas.  I'm always incredibly tempted by all the goodies and I REALLY don't need to indulge. So hopefully putting money on the line will help me focus on making better choices. 

Of course 4% isn't chump change in my case. It's almost 10 lbs, which is a tall order for 4 weeks. I'm not going to stress myself over it, just do my best. I considered doing the 6 month 10% route, but went with a smaller commitment time and money-wise.  Maybe afterwards? We'll see how I  do with 4 weeks before committing myself to 6 months.

I really am looking forward to it, though. I've not been feeling that spiffy lately.  My blood sugars are higher than they should be and that always makes me feel like poo. I seem to do this to myself this time of year.  I had hoped having half-marathons lined up to force me into walking would help, but that all kind of fell apart. So I really want and need to get off my bottom and clean up my act. 

After a lot of thinking, I've decided to take a break from half marathons right now. I hate giving up on my goal of having 13 races before I turn 40, but physically and financially it was going to be too stressful. Hopefully I can do a few a year, but 6 in one year...  it's just not realistic for me right now. I want to focus on a consistent routine, instead of this nonsense of crash training for a race.  Once that's in place, I'll get back to my races.

Monday, December 15, 2014

40 before 40 - The List

I turn the big 4-0 December 6, 2015.

Here are 40 things I hope to accomplish before my 40th birthday!

  1. Keep a gratitude journal all year.  At least 3 things per day.
  2. Send a handwritten letter to a friend
  3. Send someone flowers
  4. Get my drivers license updated with new address
  5. Get a new tattoo
  6. Take at least one photo per month with the girls
  7. Have a professional family portrait made
  8. Take photos of Olivia
  9. Take photos of Isabelle
  10. Take photos of Zoe
  11. Read at least 20 books
  12. Read at least 5 books to the girls (chapter books, not picture books)
  13. Buy a must-have "classic" book for the girls' library every payday
  14. Plant a hydrangea bush
  15. Plant a flower box
  16. Put up a birdhouse
  17. Have an Olivia day
  18. Have an Isabelle day
  19. Have a Zoe day
  20. Have dinner at Sonny Williams with Bill
  21. Go to a play
  22. Go to Garvin Gardens
  23. Go to Eureka Springs
  24. Go to the Snoopy exhibit at the Clinton Library
  25. Paint pottery with the girls
  26. Crochet a mandala
  27. Crochet a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
  28. Sew myself an apron
  29. Learn how to can
  30. Do a Dietbet
  31. Volunteer at a marathon  completed 12/27/14
  32. Climb Pinnacle
  33. Walk/run at least 500 miles total for the year 
  34. Finish Turbo Jam
  35. End the year weighing less than I started the year
  36. Empty our storage unit
  37. Get a dresser for our room
  38. Paint and decorate our bedroom
  39. Make a budget for 2015
  40. Go to the GYN

Monday, December 8, 2014


I got my notebook for this year. It's inspired me to read Alice in Wonderland to the girls. 

I finished my 40 before 40 list. I'll organize it any type it up for the blog when I can get to a computer. 

My goal for the year, like I said is to be more positive, more grateful. Of course, the year started of with a rough day. But I tried to focus on my goal list to try to not dwell on it. I'm going to focus a lot on trying to treat others the way I want to be treated instead of reacting to how I'm actually treated. Hopefully what I put out will come back to me. 

I'm also hoping to get our Christmas card photo done tonight or tomorrow. We all have cheesy Christmas tshirts.  We aren't really sweater people, so this is our version of ugly Christmas sweaters. ;)

I finally finished Santa.  He's kinda cute sitting up on my mantle. I didn't find Mrs Claus all that cute, but considering  how little I enjoyed making Santa, I like how he turned out. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Approaching the top

Since 40 is "over the hill", I guess my turning 39 tomorrow means I'm approaching the top of the hill?

I'll admit it, turning 40 actually does freak me out a bit.  Maybe I'll get over that during the next year.  I doubt it, but maybe.

I have a weird thing for wanting to have a theme for the year, so I'm dubbing this next year The Year of Gratitude.  I'm going to go get a cute little journal and come up with 1-3 things every day to put in there.  I'll try to remember to share with you.  This past year has been very chaotic, so I'd like to go into this year with a fresh attitude, and that needs to start with gratitude.  I want to focus on happiness and being satisfied with the here and now.

I also need to focus on my health, taking care of myself so that 40 isn't really my "over the hill" moment.  I want to keep going up. 

I'm thinking of making a 40 before 40 goal list.  I bombed on my 37 list, but I think I need some goals for my last year as a "thirtysomething."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

The turkey is in the oven, pies are made, dressing in the crock pot.  My sister will be over soon to take care of the potatoes, mashed and sweet varieties. My parents are bringing rolls and green beans. Fruit salad and my first attempt at homemade cranberry sauce (with a couple of cans on the sideline just in case...).

Awesome family. Abundance of food. I'm beyond grateful for both, and so much more.

You guys included. Thank you for reading my babbling.

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ISO Motivation....

I'm such a slug.

So, I had to cancel my plans to do the New Years Double half-marathons at the end of the year.  Did I mention this?  It just was a bad time to travel, financially.  I really, really wanted to do these races, but it was coming down to spending Zoe's birthday with her or doing these races, because I'd have to go alone.  Of course, I picked my daughter.  And now I have zero motivation to get moving.  I have mentally given up at the moment.  I have a half on the schedule in two weeks, one that I registered for and skipped last year, and there's a big part of me that's just like "Forget it.  Forget next year.  Forget making your goal of 13 before 40.  Just forget it."  The weather has been crappy the past few Sundays, so I'm not getting my long walks in.... I messed up the treadmill trying to lube it and then jacked up the plug on it the same night.... And I'm TIRED.    I need to make myself move, I know I'll feel better, I just am having such a hard time getting there.

I have a huge mental block on this Santa doll.  I could have very easily finished it by now but I hate it.  I despise every minute I devote to it.  Extreme and stupid, I know.  I can't help it.  I just need to buckle down and finish it to be finished with it.  I have a lot of other projects I want to do, but won't let myself start until this is finished.  But even those aren't as exciting as they should be to me.  Once the girls go to bed, all I really feel like doing is curling up on the couch and watching American Horror Story. 

I know I am dealing with a bit of depression due to the season and just because I deal with it more often than not.  I'm trying to keep my head up, but trust me, if hibernation was an option, I'd be there.

I am really excited about the holidays, though.  Our first Christmas in our new house.  I've whitewashed our fireplace... my first home improvement project.  I wanted to get it done before decorating for Christmas.  I have so many plans in my head.  I have no idea what to get the girls for Christmas.  I had this whole thing planned out before cancelling our trip.  They wanted American Girl dolls, and we were going to Dallas where there is an American Girl store..... so I was really excited to get them each a doll and then tell them we could go to the AG store and they could take the dolls to the salon and all that jazz.....

But then, all of a sudden, they don't even want an AG doll anymore.  And then I canceled our trip.  So my entire plan is shot. 

Now they want phones.  I am of the school of thinking that if you are still young enough to believe in Santa, you're too young to be asking Santa to bring you a phone. 

Books and shoes.  That's what they'll be getting.  Books and shoes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ducks and Dodos

The other night, the doorbell rang.  I opened the door and a man and teenaged boy were outside.  The man asked if we would be willing to let him duck hunt on our property.  2 of our acres are in the "swamp" and it's basically prime duck hunting land back there.  His son had never been duck hunting and really wanted to go this year, but finding an area to duck hunt that doesn't cost an arm and a leg is hard to do.  He offered to pay us (didn't give a figure) and give us a duck or two if he's successful.  I told him I had to speak with Bill and I'd get back with him.

After some research and drawing up a Hold Harmless agreement so he can't sue us if he gets hurt on our property, we agreed to let him.  We had no clue what to charge him.  I had been told that we could potentially get THOUSANDS out of someone because we're so conveniently located and it's a great area to hunt.  In the end, Bill and the guy decided on $500.  $500.  I was shocked.  I've even had a few friends mention they might like to come out to hunt sometimes, too.  Maybe next year we'll be more prepared and can take better advantage of the situation and make a little more money.  I know it's risky letting people on our land, but the house has a security system and we have really good neighbors.  (In fact, this guy is actually considering buying the house next door to us, so he might be a neighbor soon, too.)

While we were thinking about letting this guy hunt on our land, I realized that I needed to talk to the girls about being safe outside during duck hunting season.  Because, even if we weren't going to let this guy hunt on our land, there is a camp set up on the neighbor's property and there will obviously be hunting in close proximity of our land.  I'm not super concerned about them getting shot.... the house isn't that close to the swamp and the girls can't fly (you can't shoot a sitting duck)... but they still need to exercise a bit of caution all the same.  I told them they're not allowed past the barn until the season is over.  Bill, believing in exercising a little more caution, bought them hunter's orange hats they have to wear outside if they're in the back yard.  I told him I'm going to write "NOT A DUCK" on all the hats.  (And he, in turn, told the hunter guy that if our kids are outside they'll have orange hats on that say "NOT A DUCK."  Dude probably thinks we're insane.)

He's still offering to give us ducks, too.  In all honesty, I've never eaten duck.  I've never been interested in eating duck.  I'm not an adventurous eater.  And if he hands me a dead duck, I may vomit.  I am dreading cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving because handling a turkey carcass grosses me out.  And they're mostly prepped for cooking before you bring them home.  What do I do with a freaking duck?  Isabelle would be traumatized for life.

He can keep the ducks.  Really.

This morning I get to take my Dodo to the ENT (ear, nose & throat) doctor.  She's failed 2 hearing tests at school, so we have to get a note from the doctor saying she's under medical care for it now.  She failed hearing screenings 2 years ago, too, when we were having her tested for speech therapy.  They put tubes in her ears then, which I thought was odd because she doesn't get chronic ear infections, but I'm obviously no doctor.  I wonder what the next course of action will be.  More tubes (the old ones fell out long ago)?  We'll see.  She's been sick with a sore throat the past few days, as well, so we'll just knock all of her problems out at once, I guess.  Poor kiddo.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Run for Jacob

I woke up this morning and dragged myself out of the house against my own will. I didn't really want to walk, but I skipped my walk yesterday, so I really had to. 

My usual destination for my walks is the Big Dam Bridge. It was very foggy out this morning, and it was so eerie driving up to the bridge. Until I was very close, it looked like the bridge wasn't there, it was totally swallowed up by the fog.

There were many, many more people out on a cold foggy Sunday morning than usual. But today was a special day, the Run for Jacob. 

Jacob was the race director for the Three Bridges Marathon (3B26) and a huge part of the local running community. He went into cardiac arrest during a marathon last weekend and died earlier this week. Today was supposed to be the pre-run for 3B26, but turned into a memorial run for Jacob instead. 

I did not know Jacob, myself. I did read an article on him that talked about him cheering at the last race I did and I realized I actually remembered him. Out of all the supporters there, he stuck out to me.  He was out there cheering, calling us by the names on our bibs and offering high 5's.  By the time I pass people cheering, they've gotten a little tired and it often shows, but not him. He was well known as being an enthusiastic cheerleader for everyone, his high 5's, and for running shirtless more often than not. 

During my 7 mile walk, I always had at least one purple 3B26 race shirt in sight. There were far more shirtless men running than there normally would be on a very chilly morning. I was rarely alone on any part of the trail.  I thought it was great that so many people turned out to honor this guy. 

The best part though was the mood out there. Everyone is generally friendly on the trails anyway, but today it was just so much more so. Not just the normal nods or smiles in passing, but a lot of greetings, like everyone knew each other. A lot of random encouragements being tossed about. And high 5's.  I got 5 of them.  It sounds like such a simple, small gesture, but it doesn't feel that way at all.  It's encouragement, and, to me at least, acceptance. I'm not really a runner, but I'm still one of them. That's something that I haven't gotten used to yet.

Between the amazing beauty of the fog and autumn colors, and the beauty of the people out on the trails, this was much more than just a walk, it was a much needed boost to my spirit.

Thank you, Jacob.  I didn't know you, but you have touched me.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

From distressed to amused

Thank you guys for all the support!   It's been a trying week. I don't like being in tense situations, so it's really been getting to me.

I hit a breaking point of sorts yesterday.  I had scheduled to take half a day off for a field trip with one of the girls. It was canceled due to rain, but I decided to take my time off anyway to avoid being around all the negativity. On my way out, I asked my boss if I could meet her at her other office to talk later (she is administrator over two offices, she spends the morning with us, then goes to the other).

I had decided to find another job.  I wanted to let my boss know, because I respect her and didn't want to blind side her.  I didn't want to do it at work because, well, I'll be honest... I was paranoid of my coworkers seeing us talking and then coming up with some wild story about what I'm up to (which is ironic considering what I'll tell you later).

I went home and worked on making a resume.  It was hard. LOL. 15 years in one place makes for a very short and sweet resume.   I did a job search and really didn't find anything. It was a bit discouraging, but a much needed reality check.  Then I just spent some quiet time thinking, waiting for my boss to get to the other office.

Long story short, she talked me down off the ledge.  She assured me that things would eventually get better and we just had a nice long talk. While I was there, since I had never been to that office she gave me a tour, introduced me to everyone, many of whom I've spoken to on the phone frequently but had never met face to face.

Today was a little better. I still got the cold shoulder from a lot of people but not as many. It gave me hope that the atmosphere may thaw out soon. I had a moment where I wanted to get really ugly and snarky, but I'm extremely non-confrontational and just couldn't.

See,  earlier this year, a coworker asked me to crochet a pair of dolls, Santa and Mrs. Claus.  I made Mrs Claus, but when I went to start Santa, the pattern designer had retired and deleted all her patterns.   It took me months to track down a copy, and by then I was in the midst of home buying and moving. She's been one of the most surprising and obvious ones who turned against me. Surprising because she was M & B's favorite target for mean pranks and ugliness. So, while it's surprising that she is being cold towards me,  it's not quite distressing because she's a bit of a difficult person to begin with.

Today, after a week of literally turning her back on me if I walked by, she decided to ask me about the Santa doll and if I'd get it finished before Christmas, and it wasn't just the fact that I'm irritated with her that pushed my button, but the way she asked. Very condescending. In my head, I said,  "I'm sorry. I've been so busy with my evil plots and trying to get people fired that I haven't been able to work on it. Now I have Christmases to ruin and old ladies to punch, so I don't think I'll be able to fit it in. "  But, instead, my blood pressure soared, making me barely able to sigh, "we'll see. "

Bill says I should be the bigger person and make the doll. I guess I need to go buy stuffing. Bah.

Anyway.... after I got home, something funny happened that I think will make things much better.

One of the ladies from my boss's other office came by and I guess she mentioned meeting me yesterday to someone, and that I had been given a tour. By the end of the day, this had grown into a big rumor that I went over there to tour because our surgery center is closing (and presumably my boss was giving me a job at the other office).  It's ABSOLUTELY and ridiculously untrue. But these drama queens took it and ran with it.  Finally, someone called my boss to get to the bottom of it.

I just have to laugh about it. I've gone from trying to get someone fired to be spiteful to being part of some secret plot where EVERYONE loses their job.

They also discussed the firing, and I'm really hoping that helps diffuse the situation. Maybe they'll see that it wasn't a case of me throwing a fit and my boss firing her to make me happy. I know probably nothing will fix things between B and myself, but she has been professional towards me when she has to talk to me, and I can live with that. Santa lady...  like I said, she has always rubbed me wrong.  I'll make the doll and be nice. But it won't be made with love. (Isabelle said I should make the doll for her so I enjoy doing it and then she'll sell it to the lady. She's quite clever.  And greedy, because she has no intention of giving me the money LOL)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I'm a pariah.

Yep.  Persona non grata.

They ALL hate me. 

What happened? 

Remember these people?  My coworkers that make me want to just get up and walk off my job?  Of course, this has to do with them.

Everyone loves them, just like I did at first.  But while I am there to see their true colors, no one else is around enough to see them.  Remember that.

Thursday, I came in to work, and doing as I always do first thing in the morning, I took the day's schedule off of the clipboard to fax over to the hospital.  This was under the schedule....


I freaked out.  I knew exactly who put it on there, without a doubt.  Was it meant for me?  Well, who else takes the schedule off of the clipboard? No one but me until the end of the day.  I was very angry and very disturbed. 

My boss investigated.  The story that she was given was that M left it for B as a joke, because B had been sick and coughing all week.  M didn't think anyone else would see it.  It was a joke. 

Did I believe them?  I acknowledge that it very well may have been a joke like she said.  BUT, knowing the pranks they've pulled on other people... knowing how they talk.... I was still uneasy.  Plus, even if it was not meant for me, I found it.  I can't really put into words how upset I was upon finding that.  A simple "it wasn't for you" doesn't erase that.

My boss asked me what I wanted her to do.  I told her I would not work with them anymore, and I'd go home that day if I thought I had to come to work to them the next day.  Since M admitted to leaving the sign, M was fired. 

Part of me wishes I had just walked out. 

My boss tried to leave me out of it as far as anyone else knew.  She tried to say she found the picture.  But that just made things worse.  They all know I found it.  It looks like I just wanted to hide behind my boss and she fired M because I'm "boss's pet." 

They all loved M.  I get it.  She was funny, always laughing.  But they never realized how much of that laughter was at someone else's expense.  They didn't realize how shoddy a job she did at work (In 3 days, working just part-time on her job, I've already surpassed what she was doing full time).  The loved her, they're upset she's gone.

And they're all blaming me.  No one talks to me if they can avoid it.  They look away when I walk through the room.  I'm not making this up.  You'd think M was dead and I was holding the knife.

It bothers me.  I wish it didn't.  But it really, really does.  I've worked there 15 years.  I don't recall ever being some sort of trouble maker, running around getting my boss to fire people I don't like.  I'm an extreme introvert, but I'm not unfriendly.  It just really hurts my feelings that not one person has asked for my side of the story.  No one.  They just all assume I've overreacted over their "joke" or that I was just out to get M. 

It bothers me that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it either.  If I act upset, I'm just playing the victim.  If I ignore it all, I'm heartless. 

I just want to quit. 

I'm tired.  Like I said, 15 years.  And no one knows me well enough to give me the benefit of the doubt that M's firing was justified.  Hell, right now, I wonder at times if I was in the wrong.  If I should have just let it slide.  Even the person that M bullied most of all has ostracized me... I don't get it. 

Maybe I am the terrible person. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Soaring Wings Half Marathon 2014

It's been 6 months since my last race, and I'll admit that I was a little nervous about this one.  Lately, I've had problems with having really tight hips and getting very sore after walking.  I had decided to add yoga back into the mix, and after Monday night's class, I felt like I had brand new legs.  Awesome!

Then I walked on the treadmill Tuesday.  I think it needs some lube, it jerked funny a few times, and I felt like I had pulled something the next morning.  I spent the rest of the week doing all the stretches I could remember from Monday's yoga class that had made me feel better.  


I felt better when I woke up Saturday, so I headed off to the race.  But let's be honest, I'm such a bonehead that I probably would have attempted the race anyway.

Last year's Soaring Wings has remained my slowest race to date. The course is very hilly and I remembered that I didn't particularly enjoy it last year. I finished in 3:45, extremely sore and with horrible blisters.  Really, my only goal for this race was to not do worse.

It was a warm day, warmer than October should be, so I couldn't wear the race shirt, because it was long sleeved.  I felt bad for everyone who had... by the end of the race it was in the 80s.  I did have a jacket with me, but tied it around my waist before the race even started.  And that made me realize that if I have something around my waist, my lower back doesn't hurt at all when I walk.  I had heard during my Leslie Sansone Walk at Home videos that having a belt around your waist activates your core muscles simply by being there, but I really didn't buy into it (She sells them, so of course she's going to make them sound amazing).  It really does work, though.  My abs can attest to that today.  I need to get a hydration belt or something, simply to help with my back.  (And because I hate carrying water)

Honestly, the hills didn't bother me as much this year.  My normal training route has a few bridges on it, so I think I've come to terms with hills.  The course was pretty narrow in places, though, and we shared the road with traffic a lot.  When I had to pass a pair of walkers, I would be uncomfortably close to traffic.

PSA.... if you're racing with a pal, go single file when someone needs to pass.  Safety over companionship!

There were water stations every 1.5 miles.  Blessed water stations.  It was so warm out that I wished I had carried water.  I was usually parched by the next station.  They also had Gu, gummy bears, and fruit at the later stations.  

I realized yesterday that I truly love being in the back of the pack as a walker.  I'm not trying to trash all the fabulous fast runners in anyway, but I think the most inspiring people are at the end.  I read something the other week, and I'm slightly paraphrasing, but it went something like "First place is AMAZING, last place is INSPIRING".  There's always a run/walker who uses me as a cue to start running again.  There are older people showing that it's not too late to do something amazing.  Yesterday, I was following this one older lady... she caught my eye because I had never seen anyone with a walking skirt past their knees.  Her family was leap frogging along the course to encourage her, and she'd hug and cry every time she passed them.  It gave me a lump in my throat.  Half-marathons are obviously physically and mentally challenging, but most people don't realize how emotional they are. 

I don't think anything can beat RussVegas in terms of community support, but it was pretty good for this race.  There was a kid around mile 2 wearing a shirt that said Mile 9 that amused me.  A couple of clever signs like "Smile if you're not wearing any underwear."  I always love when little kids are out giving high fives, and there was a gentleman playing sax along the way.  I could tell in a few spots that people  had abandoned their cheering post, which is always disappointing.  And we were all amused by the fact that they left the Mile 4 sign up (the course looped through the same area twice at that point) when we were in the 12th mile.... the lady next to me said she'd quit if it was really just Mile 4.  I said I'd just lay down in the road right then and there.  =)

I was really surprised that for the first half of the race I kept a 15:00-15:15 pace.  That's faster than I normally train, but it's not unusual for my race pace to be faster than my training pace.  I push myself harder when I'm racing, not wanting to be passed by everyone.  LOL  But even as the crowd thinned and I didn't have people immediately around me, I kept that pace, which impressed me.  I did start slipping after the first half, though, but I realized if I could keep it under 16:00, I might just have a new PR.  To be honest, I never bothered looking up what I should shoot for to have a PR, because I didn't think it was possible considering last year.

My pace continued to slip as I neared the end, but I still felt pretty strong and didn't have as much as a hot spot on my feet, let alone blisters.  I mean, I didn't feel like I could walk miles and miles more, but I wasn't in pain.  

I crossed the finish line at 3:30.

That's 15 minutes faster than last year.  15 minutes!

That's also my new PR.

I went from this race being my worst to my best!  That's pretty exciting!  16:03 was my average pace.  I'm going to shoot to shave those 3 seconds off my next race in December.  =)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Coach Jen?

Isabelle asked me the other day if she could do the Little Rockers Marathon this year.  If you remember, we tried this last year.  The Little Rockers Marathon is a part of the Little Rock Marathon that I've done the past 2 years.  The kids walk or run a total of 25.2 miles over the weeks leading up to the marathon and then they all run the last mile together. 

Last year, Olivia and Isabelle freaked out at the start line for the last mile and left without finishing (or even starting).  It was just the two of them in a sea of strangers. I wasn't allowed to do it with them because only team leaders could be in with the kids, and my 2 didn't qualify as a team.  I understand their feelings, I hate crowds myself, but I was so disappointed that they did all that work and didn't get that medal at the finish line.

So, understandably, I was a little hesitant to tell Isabelle we'd give it another go.  Zoe's old enough to do it this year, so she'd have a partner (Olivia refuses to do it this year... she refuses to do anything that involves getting off the couch).  But I still am nervous that they will get too nervous to do the final mile.  An light bulb popped up over my head.... what if we had a team?  I'd only need 7 other kids to make up the 10 kids that would qualify us as a team (Olivia would have to do it by default... she would have to be there anyway).  I do love the idea of helping get kids more active.  The idea of being some sort of coach helping people get involved with walking has crossed my mind several times over the past few years.  So this is something I really feel led to do, I just haven't found the right opportunity yet.  I stewed on the idea for a while, and decided to test the waters a bit.

I sent a note to Isabelle's teacher (I know her best of all the teachers the girls have this year... it's our 3rd year with her), and explained what I'm thinking to get her opinion.  Offering the chance to be on the team to the kids in the school and meeting after school at the track to do our mileage.  I wanted to run it past a teacher before approaching the principal because I don't know all the rules involved with extra-curricular activities, and I hate making a fool out of myself.

Turns out, she loves the idea and said she'd bring it up to the principal next week.  I'll have to meet with him with all the actual details, I'm sure.  I'm kind of nervous about the idea... that it may really happen.  Me... coaching kids for a "marathon."

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Double Up!

Half-marathon training is in progress for my 6th race on the 25th.  And starting this week, I start training for the New Year's Double.... which means racking up some serious mileage between now and then.

November and December are the same, but with higher mileage.  The plan for the Double thinks I can do 7 miles on a Tuesday... it's kind of unrealistic unless I take time off of work.  And I might, I really don't need much excuse lately.  It depends on how much vacation time I have left.  But otherwise, I only get about 2 hours a night without the kids and it would take all that to do 7 miles.  And I have other things that need to be done, so we'll just see how that works out.  I've always been really flexible on weekday mileage anyway.  As long as I get my long walks in and keep myself active, I think I'm good.

I have all my half-marathons planned out to reach my goal of 13 before I turn 40.  I'm registered for the next three already, and need to start socking away money for the rest.  It's not a cheap habit, I guess.  =)  Not to mention needing new shoes every so often, and good running shoes aren't cheap.  It's worth it though. 

We're getting settled in pretty well into the new house.  The girls love having more space, inside and out.  I haven't done a thing remodeling-wise yet, and I'm OK with that.  I feel at peace and I have time to take my time. 

Ollie has been a bit harder to settle in with.  I honestly didn't anticipate just how much having a puppy is like having a small child.  He has been so hard to house train.  It's been extremely frustrating.  He eats everything but dog food.  The cat's food, flip flops, pencils, paper, the gate I bought to try to keep him out of the kitchen because he's tall enough to reach the counter now.... and then, yesterday, this....

That would be the cord for my treadmill.  I had just plugged in it here at the new house for the very first time the night before.  I came home from work and found that and thought I was going to totally lose it.  I was literally minutes from loading Ollie up to take him to a shelter.  But my sister talked sense into me and brought me a bigger crate so that we crate him whenever we can't strictly supervise him.  I hate that he'll have to be in the crate as much as he will have to be with our schedules, but he's lucky he didn't electrocute himself, and it's for his safety as much as my sanity.  Last night was rough.  I had to sleep on the couch because he'd bark non-stop once I left him alone in the crate.  He'd hush if I was in the room.  So I didn't sleep well.  Hopefully he'll get used to it quickly and I can sleep in my bed again.

And Bill fixed the cord to the treadmill right away this morning.  My hero.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Is this hypocritical?

I can't stand my coworkers.

I know.  I used to love them to death.  They made me laugh, they were fabulous.  Then the new wore off and I realized that they're really mean and ugly people.  And they made me feel really mean and ugly, so I had to back away from that.  Now they irritate me beyond comprehension. 

They will be sweet as pie to your face and when you walk away, they say really nasty things about you.  I know, I hear it daily.  I don't know if they think I agree or if they forget I'm here, but they say the ugliest things about people that I've heard in a long, long time.  They have no respect for anyone.  It's been a long person since I've regularly heard someone use the word "retarded", so long that it got filed away in my head as something only ignorant people would still use as an insult.  I guess they're ignorant, because they use it daily. They're racist.  They made comments one day that they would never accept a mixed-race grandchild.  I just shook my head, and was told I'd feel differently if one of my girls came home with a black boy.  I can honestly say that no, I wouldn't.  I don't care who my girls bring home.... white, black, Asian, Hispanic, another girl, a nerd, a tattooed biker.... as long as they are treated with respect and are happy.  Period. 

These two are inseparable.  They act like the world has ended if their partner is absent.  They go to the cafeteria to get lunch together, even if one of them brings their lunch.  They can't stand being apart.  And, yes, I have considered that maybe I'm just jealous that they are such good friends and I'm not a part of that.  I really don't think so, but I'll just be fair enough to put that out there as the grain of salt that this post may be needed to be taken with. 

They spend the day laughing and talking and not getting very much done as a result.  They argue all sorts of reasons that their productivity is no where near as high as the people who have held their positions before.... OF COURSE it's not because they're too busy making fun of someone in the waiting room.  When they don't get things done, it falls to me to fix.  When I bring a problem they caused to their attention, it certainly can't be their fault.  Or they have never been told about that before (that's funny, when I remember telling them myself).  I can't stand people who don't take responsibility for their mistakes.  Just own up to it and resolve to do better.  That's all I want.  Not excuses. 

I may be technically their supervisor, but I have no real power.  And my boss is just now starting to see what I've been saying.  Unfortunately, she's not the firing type.   This will go on indefinitely, most likely.

I know I'm talking bad about them and all, and I guess that's hypocritical of me, but they make me crazy.


I've come very close to just leaving work early to not have to listen to them anymore.  How can people be so ugly?  So negative all the time?  They're immature.  And they're just not very intelligent.  I know.... that's not nice.  But some of the questions I've been asked, by these two who have worked in the medical field for years.... they were not in any danger of honor roll at school, I'm sure.

And you know, when someone just gets under your skin, almost every thing they do, every word they say, grates on your nerves. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

My oath

Yesterday I finished getting everything out of the old house and cleaning.  I don't intend to walk back into that house again, other than to put the keys on the counter.  We still need to get a few things from the yard, and I'm kinda irked that Bill can't do it himself since I basically did 98% of the house all by myself, but whatever... I just want it done.  It's taken way too long to get it over with. 

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I've never been the best housekeeper.  And 6 years of not being a very good housekeeper.... well, we'll say that after cleaning up the old house, I'm determined to be borderline OCD about the new house and cleanliness.  That's my oath.  I will keep this house clean and organized.  I'm going to go all Fly Lady and stuff.  I have already been driving the girls nuts with my constant barking at them to pick up their socks and put their dishes in the sink.  No eating on the couch.  Keep the doors shut.  All that jazz.

Next weekend is Olivia's birthday party (10 years old.  How can it be that she's hitting double digits already?) and we're having a little housewarming at the same time.  After that, I'm going to start working on painting.  Little by little.  I want the main living area done in time to decorate for Christmas, if possible.  We'll see.

I'm trying to get back into reading my blogs again.  I miss you people.  =)

I also have the first half-marathon of what I think of as "marathon season" in 4 weeks.  There are no marathons in the summer here, it's just too hot, so after April, there's about a 6 month break.  Which means I've been a total bum for almost 6 months.  I started my training weeks ago, but have let it lapse with all the moving business.  Now I need to get back on it.  I've trained for halves in less time, but this one is one of the toughest ones I've done.  And I've been having hip pain lately.... I'm hoping getting back into moving more and some yoga will take care of that.  Hips are pretty important for walking.  I don't want to go to the doctor, so I really do hope it sorts itself out. Next month I begin training for my double half marathons on New Year's Eve/Day, which means A LOT of walking through the end of the year.  I need new shoes.  =)

Speaking of new shoes, maybe that's contributing to the hip problems.  Definitely getting new shoes ASAP.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pictures and Plans

I just thought I'd give you a small tour of our new home and let you in on some of the ideas and plans I have.

This is the front of the house.  I am thinking window boxes to bring some color to the front of the house.

The back. We have a large screened porch. That's where the hot tub lives until we sell it.  Then we have plans to make it nice and cozy.

Bill has a huge shop. 1500 Sq ft.  That's bigger than the house we're moving out of.

The other out building. It needs a bit of work. We're not sure what we'll do with it exactly. A playhouse for the girls, a chicken coop, and garden shed have been tossed around.

I have a fire place =).   I want to whitewash it and paint the brass black.

The living room and dining room are a huge open space. I am planning on painting ALL the paneling. I hate wood paneling, but at least is fairly light, so since I can't paint before moving in, it's not sucking my soul out of me. ;) The corner on the right is going to be my little crafty corner. My chair, my yarn, my new antique sewing table. I'll show you that later. 

We haven't had carpet in a long time, as you can see, Isabelle is enjoying that. Also, in my corner... that grayish outlet thing... that's a central vac outlet. How cool is that? 

Other things I'm excited about?  The huge French door fridge with ice maker. Dishwasher. Glass top stove. Tons of counter space. More cabinets than I can probably fill. So many cabinets, in fact, that Bill wants to take out the cabinets over the bar. Nice blinds in the windows. 

I'll admit it. Everyone said it would be worth the nightmare in the end. I doubted that. But they were right. I'm stoked. =)


Did I really think we'd get through without any more bumps? 

Thursday came and the mortgage company couldn't get everything ready in time to close. So we scheduled for Friday. Then my agent called Thursday with yet another bombshell.... the sellers wanted to contest the appraisal. Their agent neglected to pass that information along until then.

I was livid.

They contacted the appraiser to see if he would check a few more houses as comps, he promised to give them an answer Friday morning. I gave the ultimatum that we had to know what was going on that day. Period. I did not want to go through the weekend in limbo.

The appraiser never called Friday. They asked us to be patient. I wanted to walk away. Bill said we'd wait. I was so upset. I felt like I looked like an idiot for setting an ultimatum that he wouldn't back me up on.

By Monday, I decided to just stuck it up and let whatever would happen happen.  The appraiser finally called and denied their request to reconsider his appraisal. So the sellers gave us two options... go forward with the lower price but we had to buy the hot tub and air compressor (with 2 years to pay on them), or they were going to request a formal review of the appraisal with the VA (which would take weeks possibly). 

We weren't particularly happy and my agent felt like we were being blackmailed.  We seriously considered walking away then. We did not want the hot tub. But, as we discussed it, the girls were screaming and fighting, and we decided we just couldn't stay in this cramped house.  So we agreed to buy the extras and finally... FINALLY... closed on the house Tuesday!

Now comes the oh, so fun part.... moving. I've been off work this week, so I've moved smaller things over.  We plan on doing the major moving on Sunday and I'll finish up the smaller junk and cleaning over the next week or two after work. I had hoped to paint before we move but we just want to get in there.

We're ready to go home.

Monday, September 1, 2014


I know it's still summer for a few more weeks, and being in the South, it will feel like summer even longer, but it's September and my brain doesn't associate September with summer. So I'm excited.

Ollie is settling in. He's getting more comfortable, so he's more puppy-ish.  We actually left him home alone for a few hours today without crating him and nothing was destroyed or pooped on, so he's getting the hang of things.

Our closing date was this past Monday, but the appraisal report hadn't been turned in, so we had to postpone. When it did arrive, we had a problem. A pretty significant problem. The house appraised $25k lower than the sale price.

I freaked out.  I was sure that was it, it was over.  Everyone told me to relax and see if the seller would come down on the price. Honestly, they had no choice.  VA and FHA appraisals "stick" to a house for 6 months, so it was come down on the price or not relist it for 6 months. But with all we had been through, it was hard for me to be even a little optimistic.

They did come down, though. Which is fantastic. Only they asked us to pay our own closing costs and they were not going to include the hot tub or the air compressor in the shop.  They have offered to sell them to us, and we are going to buy the air compressor, but we didn't really want the hot tub to begin with. Call me crazy, but there's just too much maintenance involved and I doubt it would be used enough to justify having it. I'm not sure how they'll get it out of the screened porch without tearing up the porch, though. I guess we'll find out.

Coming up with the money for all the closing costs worried me though. We weren't expecting that and we were not prepared. But it worked out. We've been able to scrounge it up.

We close on Thursday. I'm hoping for no more bumps. I'm going to be so irritating in the meantime,  making sure everyone has everything they need, making sure we have everything we need...  3 days and this will be OVER.  Please.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Laws suck, too, sometimes

Yesterday we had a plan to go get things to prepare for Zio coming home to us. Then I read an article about a group trying to overturn the pit bull ban in our city.

Yeah. A pit bull ban in our city. I totally forgot about that. =(

I spent hours trying to figure a way around it. But it boiled down to this... we could keep her and run the risk of getting caught, at which point they'd take her away and likely euthanize her, or we could find her a home where she would be legal. Running the risk of getting caught just was not an option.

Finding another home, easier said than done. My sister called the humane society, pit rescue organizations... no one would help. They had offers to foster her until they could find a new home, but they really wanted to get her into a permanent home as soon as possible. Finally, my brother-in-law ' s cousin offered to take her. But there was a catch. She lives in Illinois. We're in Arkansas.

They checked into the Liberty Train and another transport organization and it was going to take too long and with one of them, they were going to have to get Zio spayed first. So they are driving her to IL themselves. (The cousin may meet them halfway but I am not positive)

My sister and brother-in-law have THE biggest hearts.  They could have just called animal control that first day and have been done with it.  But the time and energy they've put into this dog is beautiful. Not to mention money... diving to IL isn't cheap. I'm proud they're my people.

By the way, Zio is doing so much better. She's put on some weight, is more active, and today she actually let their dogs near her. Now she's about to go to her new home. Happy ending!

Obviously, the girls were crushed, though. I explained it to them, and they understood, but think it's a stupid law. But it's a life lesson: some rules are dumb, but you still have to obey.

We went to dinner, and in the middle of dinner, I got a message from a friend who found out that we couldn't have Zio.  She asked if we would consider taking in a dog that was dumped where she works that she had been trying to find a home for. I checked with Bill (who is just a big softie and would never say no anyway) and we drove out to see the dog.

The girls fell in love instantly.

He's just a puppy. My friend thinks probably 3 or 4 months old. Do you see how big he is? Still just a puppy. He's going to be huge. I don't mind... I prefer big dogs.

The girls wore him out. We arranged for him to stay one more night at the shop. Picked up some things for him and I went to get him today.

Meet Ollie.

He's not as hyper as I thought he would be. I'm hoping to get him house trained as much as possible before we move. We don't have carpet here, but will in the new house. He's mostly gone near the doors so far, so I think he knows he should go out, we just haven't gotten that far yet.

He's a sweetheart so far. He was so sad when the girls went to bed. He whined for a little bit and then went to lay down, looking like he lost his best friends forever. Imagine how excited he'll be in the morning!

He's curious about Killer, but Killer doesn't want the dog near. She's actually being a big meanie right now and is parked by Ollie ' s food dish and poor Ollie is afraid to get too close. She has hissed, but hasn't swatted. I'm going she'll learn to tolerate him.

We're supposed to close Monday, but it may be delayed a day or two due to people taking their sweet time getting things done. Seriously, don't they know we need to be their priority? ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

People suck

One thing we have wanted to do when we move is get a dog for the girls. We have a cat, Killer, a stray that adopted us a few years ago. But she's definitely a stray at heart, and mostly uses us for food. She will love on Bill, but doesn't bother much with the rest of us.

There is a program here called Paws In Prison, where shelter dogs are taken to the prisons to be trained by the inmates. My sister has a PIP dog. I thought that would be the perfect solution, a rescue dog that is already trained. But the adoption fee is steep, so we would have to save up and wait.

So that was the plan. Move, save up some money, then get a dog.

Today, my brother-in-law came home and found a dog in their carport. The dog chained to the pole. He isn't sure if someone thought it was their dog, they have a similar looking dog, or what. But there she was, a white pit bull, dirty, scrawny, and obviously having recently had a litter of pups.

She was scared, but he managed to get her to let him look at her, and give her food and water. Given the circumstances, he was pretty sure she had been dumped.
He posted about it in Facebook and my heart just went out to this poor dog. It's weird, but I instantly felt like this was meant to be our dog.

We did search the lost and found sites, and will continue to do so, but we don't think we'll be able to find an owner that is missing her. She's a pit bull... chances are she was kept for breeding and they felt she had had her last good litter and got rid of her. She doesn't appear to have been in fights herself, but she doesn't like other dogs at all. My sister has two dogs and she's not able to bring the stray inside because she's too aggressive towards them.

That worried me a bit. I have kids, obviously, I don't want to bring an aggressive dog near them. We went to go see the dog, and she couldn't have been more docile with the girls. Isabelle wasn't afraid of her at all, and she's usually nervous around dogs, if not terrified.

I talked to Bill and we're going to take the dog. She'll stay with my sister a few days while we prepare. We were going to wait until we move but it's very hot outside right now and I hate the idea of that poor dog being outside too long.

We'll probably name her Zio.  After the girls, it's the first letter from each of their names. Hopefully she'll adjust well and become a nice addition to the family!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to school 2014

Summer is OVER!

Dance with me.

Alrighty. Today was the first day of school for my munchkins. Normally I take a few hours off of work to see them off, but I couldn't today. I was kind of bummed about that. But, Mr. Bill made sure to get pictures for me.

Miss Olivia is in the 4th grade this year. Her teacher is new to the 4th grade as well. She used to be a 2nd grade teacher, so I'm vaguely familiar with her. Olivia seems to like her.

Miss Isabelle is in the 3rd grade. Our best surprise of the year is that she has the same teacher that she had last year! It's almost the whole same class, too. We love her teacher, so we are very excited for this year.

Miss Zoe is in the 1st grade this year. She has the same teacher Olivia had in the 1st grade, and I have to admit I'm pretty disappointed. I just am not fond of her at all. BUT, Zoe told me today that she's her second favorite teacher, so she's at least got a positive attitude about it. (And yes, we found it really amusing since she's only had 2 teachers! )

The first day went well.  Everyone was excited about their day. We went to have our traditional first day of school ice cream after school, Isabelle had her usual Monday Meltdown when we got home, Zoe whined through her homework (yes, homework on the first day... she's that kind of teacher), and Isabelle actually volunteered to do her spelling words.

Good day indeed.

We're not sure yet what we are going to do once we move. They are supposed to go to a different school, but we aren't sure we want to switch them, not yet anyway. We can apply for a permit to keep them at their school, if we chose to do so. I guess we'll see how the year goes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

5 and 12

5...  days until school starts. This part of summer is like the end of a marathon. My kids are bored out of their skulls and I'm at my wits' end. I know the relief is only temporary. Soon we'll begin the homework battle, the whining over reading, the exhausted meltdowns. But at least they won't be home all day, changing clothes 100 times, dirtying every dish in the house and getting into everything they shouldn't.

12...  days until we close on our new house. Yes. That again. I really wanted to wait. But, as with most of this process, what I wanted didn't amount to much.

Do I sound bitter?

It's not that I don't like the house. I do. I think I'll feel perfectly at home. But it's not what I wanted. Trying to find what both of us wanted in our price range was impossible. I somehow ended up doing all the compromising.

You'll have to cut me a little slack. I'm so stressed. It's not over til it's over, and there's a week and a half for something to go wrong still. Everything has gone better than last time, far better. I should be happily packing and daydreaming about decorating. But I just can't. The last house traumatized me.

Anyway. It's a 3 bedroom house, 1800 Sq feet, on 6+acres.  It's roomy and peaceful. Once we are moved in, I'll be excited, I'm sure. It's close to where I work. It's an older house and will need some updates, but it's in very good shape. I wanted 4 bedrooms, but this will do. The bathrooms have been updated with a jetted tub in the main bathroom and a very roomy shower in the master bath. There's even a hot tub on a large screened in back porch. My husband will have a very large shop and there's an additional building that he wants to turn into a chicken coop.

I'll finally have a dishwasher. The fridge is huge. There's a central vac system, which is exciting. Carpet. I've missed carpet. Huge kitchen. Huge everything, really. Most of the house has wood paneling, which I detest, so I'll be painting walls for a while. Eventually we'll sheetrock the walls, but I do like the look of painted paneling so there is no rush. There is a big fireplace. I'll be painting, or rather white washing, that. Huge closets, lots of cabinets. Everything will have a place.

I'm ready to be out of this house. The walls seem to be closing in on me daily. There's no where for me to put boxes out of the way for me to even pack right now, so it will be a slow process moving out.

I'm sorry that I'm not peppier about all this. Like I said, I'm under so much stress and I probably am not dealing with it as best I could. I have always had the majority of the responsibilities on my shoulders, and the house buying process is a lot of work. Money is tight while we take care of all of this, and there is the added expense of back to school factored in, too, and it has highlighted the fact that I have three very spoiled children. And work...  everyone is taking turns going on vacation and guess who has to take up the slack.... Plus my coworkers are Mean Girls on a normal day, but when the boss is gone (like this week) is just nasty up there. I need a break.

Thanks for the vent. I hope to bring you more cheerful posts soon!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The One In The Middle

Isabelle's birthday was way back in April, but I just finished her birthday present today. Bad Momma. My plan was to give her a copy of Judy Blume's book The One In The Middle Is A Green Kangaroo along with a green kangaroo. Because she's my green kangaroo.... my middle child. I didn't finish the doll in time, and then it hibernated half-finished while I dealt with the house fiasco. She finally reminded me with a sad little "Is my kangaroo finished? My birthday was a long time ago."  =(

But it is finally done!

This is not my design. It's a Lalylala pattern,  Kira.  She has a collection of similar adorable patterns. It's supposed to have a baby kangaroo in the pouch but I figure that would end up lost.

Not much else to report yet. Probable new house on the horizon, but I don't want to talk about it just yet. I'm ready to get out of here though. Looking at bigger houses makes this one feel so small. Because it is. =)

I appreciate those of you who still read me despite my slacking on updating! 

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Well, that was fun.

Long story short... that dream house?  It turned into a nightmare. The deal fell through, and the process had been so awful we were relieved instead of disappointed.

Usually, you never actually deal with the owner selling a house. But the owner of this house insisted on being around all the time. I thought she was fine the first time we met her, but she turned into over of the most unpleasant people I have ever met.

Our first bump in the road was the fact that the house was actually a manufactured home. It was so well maintained and had been remodeled to the point that you really wouldn't know if no one told you. Nice or not... most mortgage companies don't finance them. Period. Including the one we were pre-approved through. So we had to scramble to find someone who would. We eventually did but the requirements for financing manufactured homes are much stricter. Our "sure thing" turned into iffy.

We had to endure fits from the seller.  We had decided to self-inspect, because the VA would do their own inspection and appraisal. We were basically thrown off the property and told we had to have a licensed inspector or the deal was off. My agent said she couldn't actually do that but not wanting to cause problems, we did pay for an inspection. We tried to be very accommodating. We changed the closing date to make things easier for her to arrange her own move.  She asked us to take her dog, and we agreed as long as Isabelle could meet him but we were not allowed to bring the kids on the property.

She was awful. My agent told her agent we would not come back to the house without her agent present.

After weeks of dealing with the loan officer from Hell, we were finally told they would not approve the loan.

I do feel bad. Yes, she was a mean cranky woman but I don't believe that bad people deserve bad things.  She was in the process of planning a move to England, so I'm sure this is far more inconvenient than it would be for most people. That's not my fault and we tried EVERYTHING to make the loan work. My agent assures me there isn't anything the woman can do to us, but even she is somewhat concerned that the woman would try. We still haven't gotten the signed termination of contract back, either. I do wish I could just write it off to her bad karma and forget about it.

So we begin again. We can't make any offers until the termination is final, but we're starting the hunt again. A huge part of me doesn't want to. The past few months have been incredibly stressful and I don't want to go through it again. But we have to get into a bigger home. I feel so crowded and it's not going to get better. That is stressful in itself.  But it's tempting to put it off all the same.  Last time, I was always so excited to go look at houses. This time it feels like a chore.  Hopefully my attitude will improve.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Hunt has ended!

We have found our house!  I really wish I had pictures to show off, but I don't.  But trust me when I say this was honestly beyond my imagination.  I'm still a little blown away by how it all fell into place.

It started with The Monkey House.  I had tried to do a drive by before going to see the house and couldn't.  It was a little confusing getting out to it and I realized being discreet about it would have been impossible. But I had a pretty good idea of how to get to it.

Monday, we set out to look at houses. We had decided against seeing Boot Lick and The Guest House accepted an offer the day before so we only had The Other Log Cabin and The Monkey House. The Other Log Cabin was a definite No.  So we headed to The Monkey House. We were following our realtor and she turned down a road with a real estate sign, but I was 99% sure she made a wrong turn.  But we followed her anyway. I was right. We got turned around and made it to The Monkey House finally.

The house was OK.  Not perfect. The deck needed to be replaced and it was super high towards the back of the house. I'm a bad judge of distance but it had to have been about 15 feet high.  It made me really nervous. The acreage was mostly wooded and not particularly pretty.

So we were talking with the agent and Bill wanted me to look up a couple of houses we passed on our way, including the one down the Wrong Turn Road. The second he heard about that house, he wanted to see it. All he needed to hear were the first two words in the description. ... "10 acres".

Our agent tried to get us in to see it Monday but they wanted more notice. So we arranged to see it Tuesday.

I wasn't feeling good about it. That's a lot of land. And it was a mobile home. I'm not opposed to mobile homes, but if I'm buying one, I want it to be new, you know?  They don't usually hold up over the years like a house.  And the reason we hadn't found it on our searches was that it was $30k more than I was comfortable with.

I was so nervous all day Tuesday. I had no doubt Bill would fall in love with this place. And I didn't want to crush his hopes.  I ran some numbers through a mortgage calculator and after discovering how minimal the taxes were on the property, it seemed like it was actually in our price range payment - wise. I didn't get a chance to verify it with our mortgage lady though, so it was only slightly comforting.

We got there Tuesday and the realtor wad running late. We wanted around the yard a bit and a woman came out of the house. The owner was there. I wasn't sure how to feel about that but she was very nice. She is in her 60s and moving back home to England. She does remodeling and interior design for a living so the inside of the house was amazing. If I hadn't been told it was a mobile home, I would never have guessed.  And it was a triple - wide so it was enormous.

They raised horses and miniature donkeys so there are barns and pastures and an arena. Gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful. There wasn't a single thing we could come up with that was even iffy.  Bill, who nit picked every took tiny aspect of every other house had nothing negative at all. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw him look so happy.

The owner was just hilarious. We talked to her for way too long. Don't think that she was some sweet British granny.  She was firey.  Bright artificial red hair, snappy and sarcastic. I loved her.

So we left. I promised Bill I would call the mortgage lady as soon as I got home. I did and my calculations were pretty accurate. We really could afford it and it was within our approved amount, so I called up our realtor and told her we were ready to make an offer.

Two excruciatingly long days later, they have accepted!  We asked for them to leave the really nice fridge (French doors, drawer freezer) and their gorgeous dining room set, making sure they knew it wasn't a deal breaker if they didn't want to, but they agreed. Then they negotiated a later closing date in return for also leaving us their top of the line front load washer and dryer. Plus they are putting in a new stove (because the oven handle is broken... their decision, not our request).

I feel like we won the lottery! We won't close until July but that's fine. I get a beautiful house that is bigger and nicer than I had hoped for and Bill has room to put cows in the future. This is what we hoped to be able to have SOMEDAY, but never thought we could have NOW. All because our real estate agent made a wrong turn.

I am so excited!  I can't wait to show off our new home!


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