Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cell Phone Drama

Last week, I received the dreaded news from my husband. Our daughter, Angel, had left her cell phone at volleyball practice. He picked her up from school and as they were driving he saw her frantically looking through her bags and purse. With tears in her eyes she told him she didn't have her phone. It must still be at the school.

When I came home from work, I picked her up and told her would would go back to see if we could get into the building. I was worried about the phone. We had bought it at the beginning of the school year and it wasn't cheap. I was trying to remember if the phone insurance covered lost phones. Angel was going through some kind of cell phone withdrawal. "My friends are probably wondering why I haven't answered them! What about all of my songs and pictures!"

We got to the school and we were able to get in. We went to the gym and looked where Angel's stuff had been during practice. Nothing. We walked around and looked for a janitor. There were none to be seen. I told Angel that maybe one of the coaches had picked it up, but it was possible someone had taken it. Her eyes welled up with tears again.

On the way home, I knew there was no need to give Angel the "Responsibility Lecture" or yell at her because she was already upset. I did take the opportunity to retell her the story of when I lost my first digital watch from Service Merchandise, so that was punishment enough.

We got home and we were getting ready to find her coach's phone number, but first I asked Angel to go through her bags one more time. "Mom! It's NOT in there! I've checked and I even called my phone from Dad's phone and I didn't hear it ring!" I told her to check anyway, to take every single thing out of her bags. With an exasperated sigh and an eye roll, she started removing her stuff. When she reached in the third time, she froze. She looked up at me with almost a smile, but also with the "I hate it when you're right" look. Yep, she had the phone all along. Yes, she did waste an hour of my life looking for that phone, but I sure loved telling her my watch story...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School Emotions

Yes, it's that time of year. Time to try to get organized and start off the year right. The kids used to get excited to go back, but each year their excitement dwindles more and more.

This year the kids are both in junior high and are in the same building. This helps because we don't have to worry about conflicting school activities or trying to coordinate two different after-school pick-ups. Our school system has three elementaries in separate buildings and one building for 7th to 12th graders. It's a big change from being the top dog at the elementary to starting over being the youngest at junior high.

Last year was difficult for me. I remember driving up to the front of the school with Tyler. I wasn't sure of the proper drop-off procedure and I was nervously trying to figure it out (the last thing I wanted to do was to be "that mom" who had the whistle blown at or the principal chase down for breaking the rules). I was feeling a little rattled, then I started to sense that Tyler was nervous. We looked at all the kids as they walked up the school. They weren't the cute, little kids I was used to seeing. They were pimply, puberty-hitting little adults. The boys shaved for goodness sake! My sweet, little boy would be sharing the halls with kids who cursed, told dirty jokes, and pushed little kids around.

I watched Tyler as he picked up his backpack and started to open the car door. I felt myself starting to choke up as he slowly stepped out of the car. I really, really wanted to tell him that I loved him, but I did not want to cry. If I could have had a few more seconds, I could have pulled the emotion back in and I would have been okay. But, I didn't have a few more seconds. This was it, my last chance to tell my son that I loved him before he faced the crowd of teenage wasteland. So, as he was halfway out the door I gasped, "I love you!" in a pathetic crackly, high-pitched voice. He turned around and looked at me with a puzzled and kind of freaked out expression. I'm sure that really helped him to start his day well.

So, here we are one year later. This year as I took both kids to school, I didn't struggle with the same feelings as last year. Tyler survived seventh grade without any wedgies, swirlies, or sleezy girlfriends, so I figured Angel would be okay. By now, I had the whole drop-off thing down pat and I even knew some of the teachers and administration. I was feeling so good about school this year that I even tried to play a practical joke on the kids.

For just about every first day of school, I have always taken the kids' picture. My husband asked me if I was going to take one this year. I told him that I was going to take one before we left the house. Then the light bulb went off. I told my husband that it would be funny if I acted like I wanted the kids to stand in front of the school so I could take their picture. Can you imagine! We laughed and laughed just imagining their reaction. We even thought about getting out of the car with the camcorder and me acting like I was going to follow them into the school! So, as I confidently drove up to the school, I looked over at my daughter and saw her clutch her books and take a breath. In a very serious tone, I started, "So, would you guys mind standing by the building so I..." I couldn't do it. I busted out laughing.

Once again, my emotions got the best of me. And once again I got a strange look. Yeah, I guess my parents were weird when I was in junior high, too...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hey, It's Been a While!

Geez, I can't believe I haven't posted on this blog in almost a month! This has been a really insane summer for me.

Last week was my last of three furlough weeks where all employees had to take unpaid time off. I really thought that I would be able to use the time to work on projects around the house and on my blogging. Of course, things didn't quite work out like I planned...

One problem I found is the weeks that I did work, I had to put in a lot of extra hours (that's when being a salaried employee has its downfalls). With EVERYONE taking three weeks off throughout the summer, that left a lot of work to be covered by the people left. Also, I spent a lot of time trying to get my work done in advance before my weeks, then working my tail off to get caught up when I would get back.

So, the long, stressful days at work led to me getting behind on things at home. When I was home, I was trying to get everything done in a short amount of time. One week was devoted to cleaning the attic and getting ready for Angel's birthday party. Another week was spent hounding the kids to finish their 4-H projects and taking them to the fairgrounds for different judging events and 4-H shows. This past week was spent trying to get the kids together to go back to school (try doing that after not being paid for three weeks over the summer!).

Speaking of money, any spare time I have had lately has been working on a new side job. I've been writing furiously for Demand Studios. They pay $5 to $15 for articles about all kinds of topics, and it's helping me earn a little extra money when we need it.

I'm really hoping things will calm down when our company finishes out these furloughs. I hope all my blogging buddies won't give up on me!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quick Update

Hi! I hope summer is going well for everyone. For me it's been busy, busy, busy. I was off work all last week, but it is the week before our county fair and we had so much to do. The kids had projects to finish, and we were at the fairgrounds almost every day for judging.

Later today, my sister and her family will be here from Arizona. This will be the first time my nieces and nephew have been back since they moved five years ago. My kids are SO excited about seeing their cousins again. I still have some housework to finish up, and they'll be here all week.

I am no longer blogging with Today.com. Follow the link if you want to know more. Now I will be concentrating on my Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver blog and writing here for fun. I think after next week is over, things should start to calm down and I hope to get back into a good blogging, commenting, dropping routine.

Talk more soon, Sherri

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Going to be a Berry, Berry Great Summer

This is one of my favorite times of the year. This is when all the wild berries around our house become ripe enough to pick. First we have the black raspberries, then the big blackberries will be ready next.

Tyler and I have already gone out to pick berries this week, even my Mom who has Alzheimer's has gotten in on the fun. It's quite the hunt for us to look for the berries. We start out picking the obvious ones that are along our path. Then, we look though the weeds and thickets for the berries that are hiding. The ones that are hidden are usually the biggest and juiciest. We get so excited when we find a large patch of ripe, juicy berries!

When we go out to pick the berries, it gives us a nice opportunity to spend time together and enjoy nature. It takes a good couple of hours to go through all of places where the berries grow. Our dogs like to accompany us, and they even eat some of the berries right off the vine!

Of course, besides the thrill of the hunt, nothing is better than to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Berries are great on ice cream, yogurt, and even by them self with some sugar. For Father's Day tomorrow, I'm going to make a cheesecake and put the berries on top.

Yes, it is definitely going to be a berry, berry great summer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover - Attic Edition

That was the name that Tyler came up with for our attic project. It was actually more like "Design on a Dime," but we still gave our attic a nice little makeover.

I planned one of my furlough weeks for last week so I could work on the attic. For months, Angel has told me that she wanted the attic fixed up enough so she could have a slumber party up there. We have a large unfinished attic that could comfortably hold Angel and all her preteen friends.

First, we went up to see what we were dealing with. Usually, my husband is the one who braves the attic trips to get the Christmas decorations. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. There was a lot of dust, dirt, and dead bugs. We spent a good while sweeping and cleaning everything up.

Our next concern was making the attic comfortable enough that they could all sleep. The floors are just bare plywood. We checked around to see if we could find some inexpensive carpet remnant. We found a real good deal at Menard's. Their carpet remnants were on sale, and we found a 15 x 19.5 ft remnant for $107. It covered enough of the main section so everyone could fit with their sleeping bags.

Next we looked around for some furniture we could temporary move up to the attic. We have an air mattress that folds up into a small couch, that we bought for guests. That went up along with some folding chairs and oversized pillows. We also brought up Angel's T.V. with the D.V.D. player.

As we were hauling all of this stuff up to the attic, we realized we were having some problems with the folding attic ladder. The hinges that lock the ladder sections had broken, and it was starting to bend. I called the manufacturer, Werner, and asked about getting replacement hinges. To my shock, they told me they had discontinued the model we have, and they would send us out a new one free of charge! They even expedited the delivery so we would have it before the party!

The finishing touch was my brainchild. I concocted the idea of creating a pulley system so the girls could hook something from below, then pull the robe to hoist it up. At first my husband thought I was nuts, but he finally got on board and helped put it together. It worked really well, and it helped prevent the girls from trying to climb the ladder while carrying stuff.

The attic still needs some more work, but at least it's good enough for a nice little getaway for the kids. It was a fun little project.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Due to Current Economic Conditions...

I don't know about you, but I am SO sick of hearing this phrase. This phrase is always the preface to bad news: Due to current economic conditions, we are forced to close this store; due to current economic conditions, 30% of the workforce will be laid off indefinitely; due to current economic conditions, more families are losing their homes to foreclosure.

The company that I work for has not been immune to economic problems. We are a transportation provider for many large manufacturers. Our company's niche has been tier one suppliers for the automotive industry, not the best niche to be in these days...

As soon as the extended summer shutdowns in the automotive plants and bankruptcies were announced for Chrysler and General Motors, our company started a major cost cutting frenzy. Travel and other discretionary expenditures were drastically reduced. They also reduced labor expenses by cutting back hours and asking all salaried employees to take three weeks of unpaid furlough. Some employees were permanently let go.

The past few weeks were very difficult. Every time I would see an office door closed or see others speaking in hushed whispers, I wondered what was going on. If I saw a manager walking with an employee, I wondered if they were being walked out. I also started eying the name tags on the cubicles and office doors. If one was missing, then I knew they were gone.

This week is my first week of furlough (I will be taking my other weeks in July and August). It really sucks to lose a week's wages, but I have really loved having this week off. I enjoyed being home with the kids, and I didn't have to worry about them being at home alone with my Mom who has Alzheimer's. I planted our garden (better late than never), and worked on our attic so that Angel can have a big slumber party up there tomorrow night.

So, due to current economic conditions, we will not be going on a big vacation this summer or making any large purchases. But, I will be spending more time with my family, writing more on my blogs, and taking more long walks to relax and unwind.